SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Springfield Police Department has finished negotiations with the Department of Justice, settling on the wording for its updated Use of Force Policy. Now, they’re seeking public comment.

One culmination of a now years-long process involving the department of justice began with an investigation into the now-defunct narcotics division. Its stated purpose is to provide officers with specific guidelines about when an officer may use force and limit that force to what is objectively reasonable, necessary, and proportional to accomplish a lawful objective.

The update is not yet official. The purpose of this update is to give officers specific guidelines, on what officers can and cannot do in terms of force. Use of force is only permitted after failed de-escalation tactics, and non-physical force alternatives, and only allowed until the subject is under control and compliant. De-escalation tactics and strategies are specifically defined and include calling for additional resources like behavioral healthcare professionals, or officers trained in crisis intervention.

Less Lethal Force, like tasers and sprays, must be deployed before deadly force. Deadly force, stated in the document as a last resort, is only to be used when action is immediately necessary to protect an officer or another person from an imminent threat of death or serious physical injury.

City Councilor Justin Hurst stated, “The process has been daunting. It’s been long overdue. The fact that everyone has come together to produce something that can actually be enforced is critical. You have de-escalation at every level. In addition, what the policy is prohibiting in my opinion is critical.”

Those prohibited tactics include a categorical ban on chokeholds and the use of force as a punishment. Less lethal force options like tasers must be used before deadly force.
Deadly force is only to be used when action is immediately necessary to protect an officer or another person from the imminent threat of death or serious injury.

This policy proposal is just that, a proposal. There are a few steps before it becomes law including a public comment period and an official review by the DOJ.

Everyone involved is encouraging people to take advantage of the public comment period.
You can find the entire document, and a form to submit feedback, on the Springfield Police Department’s website. The use-of-force policy also establishes a Duty to Intervene if an officer witnesses inappropriate use of force, and mandates training for veteran and new officers on the policy.