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Cripa Easton Pa Pd Investigation Recommendations 11-26-07

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U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division

Special Litigation Section - PHB
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530

November 26, 2007
Via Facsimile and U.S. Mail
Mr. Stu Gallaher, Chief of Staff
Office of the Mayor
City of Easton
One South Third Street
Easton, Pennsylvania 18042
Re:	 Department of Justice Investigation of the Easton
Police Department
Dear Mr. Gallaher:
As you know, the Civil Rights Division of the Department of
Justice (“DOJ”) has been conducting an investigation of the
Easton Police Department (“EPD”), pursuant to the Violent Crime
Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, 42 U.S.C. § 14141. We
once again would like to express our appreciation for the
cooperation that we have received thus far from the City of
Easton (“City”) and the EPD. In this letter, we convey
recommendations regarding EPD’s practices and policies that DOJ
has not previously memorialized in our earlier communications.
At the beginning of our investigation, we committed to
provide the City (when appropriate) with technical assistance, to
ensure compliance with minimal constitutional standards and to
enhance EPD’s practices and procedures. At the City’s request,
we reviewed certain policies and procedures and provided our
comments in writing.
To date we have reviewed relevant EPD policies and
procedures, conducted interviews with City officials and a
cross-section of EPD supervisors and patrol officers, and
participated in ride-alongs. We have also met with
representatives of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 19,
community leaders, and other EPD citizens.

- 2 

Important aspects of our fact-gathering process remain
outstanding, most notably reviewing documents related to specific
use of force incidents. This process is ongoing and we hope to
conclude our review shortly. Therefore this letter is not meant
to be exhaustive, but rather focuses on recommendations we can
provide at this stage of our investigation.
I.

EPD Policies and Procedures
A.

Content and Organization

Policies and procedures are the primary means by which
police departments communicate their standards and expectations
to their officers. Accordingly, EPD’s policies and procedures
need to be current, accessible to all officers, and consistent
with relevant legal standards and contemporary police practices.
In addition, policies with related topics should accurately
cross-reference each other as necessary. Consistent terminology
and definitions should be used throughout all EPD documents to
avoid confusion and to increase adherence. Finally, EPD should
ensure that each policy and procedure is routinely reviewed for
consistency.
At the time of our initial tours, EPD policies and
procedures were in a binder called the “Black Book,” a hodgepodge
of policies and procedures, that in many instances had not been
updated since the 1980s. With the exception of special orders or
unofficial procedural documents that have been distributed over
the years, the “Black Book” served as the primary document
governing the field services and administrative actions of EPD.
Over the last 20 months EPD has been in the process of
updating and developing its policy and procedures manual
(“Manual”). We commend the EPD for the effort it has made in
this regard. We recognize that the City and EPD may have
additional updates to complete before all policies and procedures
are reviewed and revised.1 While we have provided technical
assistance on a number of EPD’s use of force and force related
policies already, there remain a number of other operational
policies that we will not review or comment on specifically
because they are not related to use of force. Therefore, we make
the following recommendations, primarily to assist the City and
EPD in the essential task of reviewing, updating, and maintaining
its official policies and procedures manual.
1

We note that at the time of our visits EPD had just
started its review and policy revision process.

- 3 

B.

Distribution and Accessibility

As EPD is in the process of revamping and creating a large
volume of policies and procedures, it is important that the
Department develop an effective dissemination process for rolling
out the policies. The roll-out plan can provide the framework to
promote maximum comprehension and implementation of new policies
and procedures. Distributing all or a large number of policies
at one time can be overwhelming for officers and present
logistical obstacles for adequate training. However, a clearly
articulated dissemination plan, particularly for those
policies/procedures which are entirely new or depart
significantly from previously approved conduct, tactics, or
procedure, is likely to increase officer understanding and
adherence. Additionally, to the extent possible, policies and
procedures most closely related to each other should be
disseminated and trained on simultaneously or sequentially to
reinforce the information presented to officers.
The EPD should give officers clear guidance on who is
responsible for policy and procedure distribution, when updates
and reviews of the Manual are expected, and any role officers or
their supervisors have in the process. Failure to have a
separate policy that clearly delineates these steps may confuse
roles and expectations regarding policy and procedure
distribution, and once again result in officers operating from
materials that are not current.
In addition, since new or revised policies and procedures
are likely to be rolled out over time and not issued as one
complete new manual, the EPD should have a systematic way to
ensure that these documents are issued to every officer. Not
only should EPD officers be provided individual copies of
approved policies and procedures, a hard copy set should be
available in an easily accessible location within the police
station.2

2

We understand EPD is utilizing a “Change Sheet” to
track replacements or additions to the Manual. The Change Sheet
is dated, numbered sequentially, and summarizes the documents or
policies and procedures to be added or deleted from the Manual
with the issuance of a particular Change Sheet. Officers are
then required to sign and verify receipt of the Change Sheet and
the corresponding policy or procedure and must retain these
documents in the front of their manuals. In addition, the EPD
now requires that each manual be inspected semi-annually by the
officer’s supervisor to ensure that all Change Sheets have been

- 4 

EPD also periodically issues Special Orders and Memoranda to
impart important information and changes in protocol or practices
to its officers. During our February and March visits we noticed
that these bulletins were posted on a cork board (but not
necessarily memorialized in the Manual) outside of the former
Captain of Field Services’ office. We understand these postings
have the force of official policies and procedures. We recommend
that EPD require officers to sign a document to verify they have
read these posted documents. This practice, or one designed by
EPD that achieves the same result, will help the command staff
ensure that all officers are aware of, and accountable for, all
Special Orders and Memoranda.
C.

Policy Development

We recommend that a cross-section of officers (including
officers involved in conducting training) have the opportunity to
provide feedback on new or revised policies and procedures before
they are finalized. We understand that EPD’s policy review is
ongoing, but, we recommend that now and future such reviews, EPD
consider developing a policies and procedures review team to
include officers of each rank, shift, and special unit who will
work directly with the drafter(s) of any new policy or procedure.
Officer input at the earliest stages in policy and procedure
development is useful in ensuring consistency in the use of
definitions, terminology, and substantive material. Moreover,
input from a cross-section of EPD officers and, when necessary,
administrative staff, will help ensure buy-in regarding the new
and revised policies and procedures; it will also allow patrol
officers to provide feedback on the practical viability of
proposed procedures.
We have recently learned that EPD has received
accreditation through Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Accreditation
Commission (PLEAC). This is a commendable accomplishment.
We
continue to caution the City and the EPD command staff, however,
about the limits of any accreditation. While accreditation may
result in improved policies, it does not necessarily result in
improved practices because it does not ensure policy

inserted since the last inspection, and that the Manual is
current. The officer’s supervisor is responsible for contacting
the accreditation officer to obtain any missing material and for
ensuring that the material is inserted into the officer’s manual.
While we think the process is good, we suggest that supervisors
likewise ensure that officers review missing materials after the
manual(s) are updated.

- 5 

implementation. Accordingly, EPD needs a purposeful, wellreasoned plan to continue to promote positive changes in the
culture and the practices of the Department.
II.

Use of Force

We provided our initial comments and technical assistance
regarding the EPD’s Use of Force policy (General Order #4-14) in
our November 3, 2005 letter. During our February and March 2006
visits we spoke with officers and reviewed additional information
related to EPD use of force practices. Below we outline
additional concerns regarding EPD’s canine deployment, taser use,
and use of force reporting not addressed in the above-referenced
letter.
A.

Canine Deployment

During our interviews with command staff, canine officers,
and non-canine patrol officers, we received various and
conflicting interpretations about when the use of canine force is
authorized under EPD’s canine policy.3 For example, some canine
officers reported that dogs are deployed to apprehend suspects
involved in certain misdemeanors, while other canine officers
reported that dogs are only deployed to apprehend those suspects
involved in felonies. We were particularly concerned that
several command staff, i.e., supervisors charged with authorizing
or evaluating the appropriateness of the use of force, were
unfamiliar with EPD’s current canine policy and procedures.
Additionally, supervisors, canine officers, and non-canine
patrol officers could not clearly explain whether EPD policy for
canines is “bite-and-hold” (which allows dogs to bite immediately
upon locating a subject) or “find-and-bark” (requiring a dog to
first bark -- absent immediate danger or the presence of a
weapon, and await handler instruction before biting). Some
officers indicated that “extenuating circumstances” would
determine what actions a dog would take once deployed. However
these officers could not clearly articulate what extenuating
circumstances would justify use of bite-and-hold versus
find-and-bark. In effect, EPD canine officers may be allowing
the dog, not the handler to determine when canine use of force is
appropriate. Accordingly, there is a substantial risk that
someone may be bitten without adequate justification.

3

Although the EPD has a small canine unit, this
potentially serious use of force must be carefully managed in
order to ensure that it is used appropriately.

- 6 

Generally accepted police practice for canine use of force
calls for the find-and-bark methodology. We recommend that the
existing canine policy and all related policies be revised to
reflect this methodology. A find-and-bark policy prevents
canines from biting subjects in situations in which such force is
not necessary to effect an arrest or protect the safety of
officers or civilians; for example, where a subject is passively
hiding in a building.
We recommend that canine officers, supervisors, and command
staff be thoroughly trained and tested on the canine policies and
procedures ultimately adopted by EPD. We also recommend that all
non-canine officers also be trained on EPD’s canine use of force
policy. Although such training might be more limited, all
officers must have a basic understanding of canine policies and
procedures. Failure to have all officers adequately trained on
canine policies and procedures may result in expectations of a
canine officer or his dog that conflict with the expectations of
command staff, supervisors or other non-canine officers, as well
as result in a use of force that is unjustified under current
legal standards.
B.

Taser Use

EPD’s taser policy is a subsection of Use of Force, General
Order #4-14. We provided feedback regarding taser use in our
November 2005 letter. We provide here one additional comment
regarding the revised policy EPD submitted for our review in July
2007. While the revised order appropriately provides that only
officers who have completed training will be authorized to use a
taser, it does not specify which officers or rank of officers
will be authorized to carry and deploy tasers, and whether
carrying tasers will be mandatory or optional. We recommend that
the policy be revised to include these details to ensure that
only appropriately trained and authorized officers are using this
use of force tool.
C.

Use of Force Reporting

When we initiated our investigation, the EPD did not report
uses of force on a form dedicated for this purpose. Instead,
officers recorded all uses of force, with the exception of canine
deployments, in the narrative section of an incident report.
These narratives were used to capture every variety of
police/citizen contact, making it extremely difficult to extract
information to adequately track and analyze uses of force.
Recording uses of force in this manner made it difficult also to
ensure that cases requiring investigation were identified and

- 7 

forwarded for review by the appropriate supervisory and command
staff. Indeed, unless an officer forwarded his narrative or was
directed to do so by supervisory staff, follow up on uses of
force would have been virtually impossible.
The EPD has recently created a separate use of force form
that includes the type of force used, injuries sustained, and
other information that will help supervisors track and review
uses of force. However, the new form does not include a section
for an officer to describe the facts surrounding an incident or
to provide such other information that will assist a supervisor
in reviewing the use of force employed by that officer.
Accordingly, EPD should consider revising its use of force form
to include a space for officer narratives. We have learned
recently that the EPD is in the process of implementing a new
computer system to enter and store incident reports. Should the
EPD choose not to include a narrative section as part of the use
of force form, we hope the new computer system will allow for the
integration of incident narratives with any related use of force
reports.
III.

Investigations

As a general matter, supervisory oversight of officers’ use
of force is critical for a department to ensure that its officers
use of force is consistent with departmental standards. It is
also important for a department to ensure that its officers are
using force in a constitutionally reasonable manner. See
Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S. 1 (1985).
On June 13, 2006, we forwarded feedback regarding General
Order #2-5, Administrative Investigations. Our comments are
currently under review by EPD and may result in significant
changes to the General Order. Below we provide additional
feedback regarding administrative investigations that should be
considered in conjunction with those provided in our June letter.
A.

Potential Criminal Investigations

At the time of our tour, we learned that EPD lacked
appropriate procedures for determining when a matter being
investigated administratively becomes, or has the potential to
become, a criminal matter.4 Having a well-run, independent

4

In our June 13, 2006 letter we recommend procedures
that should be followed when an administrative investigation
uncovers possible criminal conduct. We also advise in this

- 8 

internal affairs unit/personnel is critical for ensuring that a
law enforcement agency is run with integrity (as well as
protecting the integrity of its individual officers). Instead,
at EPD, the same commander conducts administrative and criminal
investigations which compromises the integrity of the criminal
investigation. See Garrity v. New Jersey, 385 U.S. 493
(1967)(ruling officers must be adequately apprised of rights
against self-incrimination to preserve the integrity of any
potential criminal investigations).
Some allegations of misconduct, including citizen
complaints, may be sufficiently serious to warrant referral to
local or federal prosecutors or other law enforcement agencies.5
In revising its policy on administrative investigations, guidance
should be provided to EPD command staff and their designee(s) as
to which complaints are appropriate for internal review and which
complaints should be referred outside the EPD or to a separate
unit within EPD for potential criminal investigation.
For example, during our February 2006 visit we learned of an
internal investigation of a citizen’s complaint alleging use of
excessive force by an EPD officer. The citizen alleged possible
criminal actions on the part of the involved officer. At the
time, since EPD did not have a separate process for investigating
administrative and criminal matters, we recommended, based on the
nature of the allegation, that the investigation be referred to
the District Attorney’s office for an independent investigation.
However, there was no procedure or policy for making such a
referral. The EPD should develop a protocol to determine when
any criminal matter involving an officer will be referred to the
District Attorney for investigation.6 Any such protocol
developed should, at a minimum, state what criteria will be

letter that EPD create a policy for conducting criminal
investigations, distinct from the Administrative Investigation
General Order #2-5 as a part of this general order or in a
completely separate policy.
5

We note here that EPD’s GO #2-5 makes no reference to
this possibility.
6

We respectfully remind you that matters should be
assessed first for potential criminal applicability in order to
prevent a compromise of a potential civil case by an
administrative review.

- 9 

considered by the EPD’s Chief or his designee(s) to determine if
a criminal matter should in fact be referred for outside
investigation.
In addition, we recommend that the EPD work with the local
District Attorney’s office to develop a Memorandum of
Understanding (“MOU”) between the two agencies to govern how EPD
will refer and coordinate. EPD should also consider developing
similar MOUs with other law enforcement agencies or outside
investigators.
B.

Investigation of Citizen Complaints

In our June 2006 letter we emphasized the importance of
keeping citizens who file a complaint against an officer apprised
of the status of the resulting investigation.7 Likewise, we
suggested that EPD officers under investigation be routinely
informed of the status, unless doing so would compromise the
outcome of an investigation. Providing updates to an officer
involved in an investigation, when possible, can prevent officer
frustration or anxiety that could negatively impact the involved
officer(s) job performance. If an investigation is likely to
exceed the standard 30-day review period, officers should be
provided this information as well. We recommend that
investigation updates provided to officers be in writing and
maintained as part of the official investigation file for a time
period consistent with Pennsylvania law. Similarly, citizens
should be apprised of the status of the investigation to reassure
the public that a reliable system of accountability exists, and
to deter potential officer misconduct.
During our review, we discovered that EPD does not maintain
its citizen complaints in an organized and systematic manner.
Citizen complaints and the resulting investigatory reports are
kept in various files and offices within the Department. We
recommend that EPD develop a procedure for maintaining citizen
investigations so that this information is readily available to
supervisory staff once an investigation is completed.
During the time of our tour, supervisory staff did not
periodically review citizen complaints or officers’ personnel
files for negative policing trends that should be addressed. EPD
supervisors should comprehensively review each officers’

7

In the June 2006 letter, we provided extensive comments
from our police expert regarding the EPD’s citizen complaint
procedure. Herein we provide supplemental technical assistance.

- 10 

personnel file including any citizen complaints lodged against an
officer at least semiannually. This review should be conducted
for the purpose of identifying any patterns of misconduct or
inappropriate behavior that should be addressed with an officer
through counseling or additional training. Since EPD will review
each officer’s policy and procedure manual semiannually,
supervisors may want to review each officer’s personnel file at
that time.
Finally, we understand from our investigation that
complaints of rude or discourteous conduct by officers toward
citizens were often handled informally and without documentation
of the complaint or corrective action taken. We recommend that
the EPD develop a written policy regarding the handling of such
complaints. Such policy should require that any complaints of
unprofessional behavior by officers be documented in writing
along with any informal resolution. Certainly, while some
citizen complaints are more serious than others (e.g., those
involving legal violations), and therefore require a more
formalized investigation, EPD must ensure uniformity in how all
citizen complaints (by severity and category type) are
investigated and that any ensuing corrective actions for policy
or procedure violations are consistently and fairly imposed
without any disparate treatment of a particular type of citizen
complaint.
IV.

Investigatory Inadequacies/Case Management System

Historically, EPD detectives were a part of one unit.
However, in 2004 the detective unit was bifurcated to form the
Criminal Investigations Division (“CID”) and Vice Units. During
our February and March visits we interviewed the CID and Vice
lieutenants along with several current and former EPD detectives.
We were told the lieutenants of these units are responsible for
assigning cases, but detectives are responsible for managing
their own case loads.
According to detectives we interviewed, the EPD has no
formal policies governing investigative training, evidence
collection and storage, victim and witness interviews, or case
file documentation and retention. EPD should devise policies and
procedures and training specifically to address the
above-mentioned areas. According to several detectives, EPD’s
failure to utilize written policy or procedures in the
aforementioned areas has resulted in the loss of evidence and of
case files. Moreover, several officers who once worked as
detectives informed us that they returned to patrol because they
lacked appropriate training, resources, policies, and direction

- 11 

to perform effectively. Specifically, to ensure investigative
integrity, we recommend EPD provide its personnel responsible for
investigating crimes with training in investigative techniques;
observation and surveillance skills; basic forensics;
interviewing and interrogation skills; report writing; basic
criminal law; basic evidence rules; and EPD administrative and
disciplinary procedures (once they are revised).8
Additionally, we recommend that the City consider purchasing
a case management system database designed specifically for
managing criminal investigations. As we have previously advised,
commercial computer networking and data management systems are
available to help law enforcement agencies effectively gather,
analyze, and use information in criminal investigations. Such
systems can automate written reporting functions, help managers
supervise detectives and assign cases, improve case-tracking
capabilities, and provide an effective tool for creating and
using solvability factors. Although finding an appropriate case
management system for the EPD may involve a considerable time and
cost commitment, we believe that such an investment would prove
highly beneficial.9
V.

Discipline

During our visits, numerous officers reported that officer
discipline is often inconsistent and unfair. Many officers
complained that discipline meted out often reflected favoritism.
Many of these officers cited favoritism and inconsistency in
discipline as a leading contributing factor to their decision to
exercise the early retirement option or leave the EPD for other
employment.10

8

These same recommendations apply to EPD supervisory
personnel responsible for investigating officer uses of force.
9

During the time of our visits the EPD failed to employ
any case solvability factors to help detectives determine if a
case is likely to be resolved and therefore should remain a
higher priority, or if it is unlikely to be resolved and
therefore should be a lower priority.
10

We are aware that the inclusion of an early retirement
option in the officers’ 2006 union contract has contributed
significantly to EPD’s declining numbers. During our February
and March visits, we spoke with many officers who had, or were
planning to, exercise the early retirement option.

- 12 

We provided technical assistance regarding the EPD’s
Discipline General Order #2-6 in our May 2, 2006 letter. The EPD
police leadership and the accreditation consultant have reviewed
these recommendations and revised these policies.11 We recommend
that in addition to developing sound written policies regarding
officer discipline, and that EPD command staff and supervisors
attend mandatory and routine training that includes instruction
on how to effectively administer corrective or disciplinary
action (where appropriate) to its officers.
In addition to the technical assistance we offered
previously, we recommend that the EPD develop a consistent system
to impose discipline. Such a system should identify ranges of
appropriate disciplinary action that would look not only to the
nature of the infraction, but to other factors, such as prior
disciplinary history. A disciplinary system should track all
discipline received by an officer as well as the dates of
disciplinary action.
VI.

Supervision and Management
A.

Early Warning/Risk Management System

As discussed during our meetings with the EPD command staff,
we recommend that EPD procure an early warning system/risk
management program (“EWS”) to assist with accountability. EPD
should develop an EWS that is appropriate and applicable to its
needs and size. Whether paper-based or computer-based, even a
simple EWS would provide a useful assessment of each officer as
well as the Department. An EWS collects data on individual
officers for effective supervision and management of a police
department and its personnel. For example, it may track uses of
force, citizen complaints, internal investigations, service
calls, and other items relevant to an officer’s conduct.
We recommend that EPD implement policies and procedures to
specify how and what type of data to collect. For example, the
EWS should contain information on all investigations and
complaints, including non-sustained complaints and complaints
prior to final disposition, discipline and other corrective
actions, uses of force, arrests and charges, searches and
seizures, service calls, training, awards and commendations, sick
leave, civil lawsuits, and other items relevant to an officer’s

11

Currently, we are in the process of reviewing the
updated policies. Any additional suggestions we may have for
revising these policies will be provided separately.

- 13 

conduct. EPD should then use this data regularly and proactively
to: (1) promote best professional police practices; (2) improve
accountability and management; (3) manage the risk of police
misconduct and potential liability; and (4) evaluate and audit
the performance of officers and units on a regular basis. We
also recommend that EPD require supervisors, including command
staff, to review this data for every officer they supervise on a
regular, predetermined basis, such as every quarter.
The policy implementing these recommendations should also
establish guidelines regarding specific events that will trigger
an additional supervisory review, such as a specific number of
uses of force or citizen complaints, considered in connection
with various factors including peer review, within a discrete
period. Once an officer has been selected for this additional
review, a report should be prepared that details all use-of-force
reports, formal and informal complaints, calls for service, sick
leave, counseling reports, civil lawsuits, and commendations
pertaining to the officer within the past five years. The
officer’s immediate supervisor and command staff should then meet
to discuss the report and determine if any corrective action is
warranted. The supervisor’s and command staff’s recommendations
should then be forwarded to the Chief for his or her timely
review and implementation. The effectiveness of the implemented
recommendations should be determined by monitoring the officer
and drafting written reports on the officer’s conduct on a
monthly basis. Both the supervisory recommendations and the
written monthly report should be included in the officer’s
personnel file.
We recommend that EPD supervisors evaluating the data
utilize peer reviews; analyzing the information contained in the
reports by comparing complaints, use-of-force reports, and other
pertinent information about a particular officer with similar
information from other officers on the same patrol team or shift.
In addition, EPD’s policy should provide explicit guidance to
supervisory officers reviewing reports to ensure that patterns of
possible misconduct are identified, analyzed, and addressed
properly by command staff. The aim of this process is to give
supervisors valuable information that, if received early, could
identify, assist and correct potential problem officers before
misconduct actually develops.

- 14 

B.

Specialized Units

We noted during our review that some of EPD’s specialized
units lack clearly-defined missions or purpose. Members of the
community policing unit, for example, were not certain of the
unit’s duties. This uncertainty can lead to mis-allocation of
the Department’s limited personnel and resources, e.g., personnel
assigned to a specialized unit might be better utilized on
patrol. Because specialized units are often insular from the
rest of the police agency, there is an increased risk of
excessive force use, other civil rights violations, and a general
lack of accountability. To avoid these potential accountability
pitfalls, there must be close screening, training, supervision,
and monitoring of such units.
We therefore recommend that all units be provided mission
statements and clearly outlined areas of responsibility. These
should include goals and performance targets. Moreover, we
advise against the creation of new specialized units until
command staff has developed written mission statements, goals,
duties, and performance targets.
C.

Communication

We recommend that the chief conduct regularly-scheduled
meetings with the captains, the lieutenants, and the sergeants.
This is particularly important in a department that is adopting
new policies and trying to implement major reforms. The command
staff should routinely be informed of the latest developments in
the Department if they are to communicate that information
effectively to line officers. Moreover, such meetings are an
important opportunity for the chief to gain feedback from his
supervisory personnel.
D.

Critical Incident Reviews

In addition to routine reviews of all use of force
incidents, EPD should ensure that use of deadly force, weapon
discharges, high-speed chases and other such critical incidents
are reviewed separately by supervisors (not involved in the
incident) to ensure that officers are acting in accordance with
applicable law and departmental policies. Critical incident
reviews may identify both officer training needs and patterns of
unauthorized or illegal activity. The information regarding each
critical incident should be tracked in an EWS, as discussed
above.

- 15 

We recommend that EPD adopt policies outlining the types of
incidents that qualify as critical incidents. Such policies
should further specify the protocol for conducting critical
incident reviews. At a minimum, shift commanders should respond
to the scene of any critical incident, secure the scene, and
summon the appropriate investigators and supervisors.
We further recommend that EPD appoint a critical incident
review board for each such incident. Such a board would include
supervisors and officers who have no involvement in the incident
under review. This board would conduct interviews of officers
who participated in, supervised, investigated, or witnessed the
incident, as well as civilians who witnessed the incident. The
board should routinely report its findings to the chief. The
report should include findings regarding compliance with the law
and departmental policy as well as recommendations for policy
changes or training improvements. For all critical incidents, it
is important that EPD develop a protocol for when critical
incident investigations will be referred to an outside
organization or external department for investigation or follow
up. Moreover, as with criminal investigations, the EPD should
develop an MOU with any external department(s) handling any part
of an investigation at the EPD’s request.
During our tours we learned the EPD lacks a reporting policy
for the reporting and investigation of unintentional discharges
of guns by officers and lost or stolen police weapons. Incidents
involving unintentional discharges and lost weapons have occurred
at EPD, yet the Department had not implemented any policy or
procedure to ensure the timely and thorough investigation of
these types of incidents. The EPD’s list of critical incidents
and related reporting and investigation policy and procedures the
EPD should include unintentional discharges and lost or stolen
officer weapons to ensure that officers and supervisors have
clear, unambiguous instructions for reporting such incidents. It
should also outline the process for any ensuing investigation.
E.

Professionalism

While the vast majority of EPD personnel we encountered were
courteous and professional, we observed a number of lapses that
undermine a professional police organization.12 For example,

12

Our consultants also observed pictures of naked women
hanging in the men’s locker room. These displays are
unprofessional and could be offensive to any employee that works
in the Department. It is particularly counterproductive in a

- 16 

there is little consistency in the uniforms of EPD officers. The
fact that officers are allowed to wear different components of
their uniforms contributes to the lack of a cohesive atmosphere
and to the appearance that supervisors do not enforce the rules.
VII.

Training

At the time of our visits, the Department had no annual
training and no budget for the provision of such training.
Instead, training opportunities were parceled out on an ad hoc
basis as officers inform their supervisors about training events
they wished to attend. At present, training seems to be guided
more by the desires of individual officers than the needs of the
Department.13 Indeed, we learned that one officer apparently
resigned from the accident investigation team because the
Department did not offer refresher training.
According to the officers we interviewed, a large proportion
of training is still devoted to firearms and canines. Other
training in supervisory management and other use of force (e.g.,
verbal de-escalation techniques) techniques are badly lacking.
First, the Department has a large number of new lieutenants and
sergeants with limited supervisory training or experience. As
the City tries to change the culture of the Department, it will
need well-trained leaders who can implement reforms. At the time
of promotion, new supervisors should receive training related to
their new job duties. Second, the Department has a reputation,
even among some of its own officers, for being adversarial and
confrontational with suspects and the general public alike.
These officers would benefit from training in incident
de-escalation.
Similarly, we were told by a senior commander that an
officer need not provide his name to a citizen if, in that
officer’s opinion, the citizen is rude. This practice can only
increase the perception of an adversarial relationship between
Easton residents and the police. Unless the officer is
undercover, there is no reason for him or her to withhold his or
her name and badge number. We believe that EPD and the community
alike would benefit from training designed to improve officers’
ability to work with the public.

department attempting to recruit more female officers.
13

Until recently, most of the Department’s training hours
and resources were allocated to SWAT and canines.

- 17 

In this regard, Title VI of the Civil Rights Acts requires
that recipients of federal funds take reasonable steps to provide
meaningful access to limited English proficient communities.14
As recipients of such funding, and given the City of Easton’s
growing Hispanic population, the EPD should ensure that some
officers are familiar with rudimentary Spanish. In addition,
officers would benefit from receiving diversity training.
EPD should appoint a training officer to develop, in
conjunction with unit leaders and the command staff, an annual
training plan and a training budget. This plan should consider
officers’ training desires when possible, but its primary focus
should be the training needs of the Department. Having a
designated training budget would allow the Department to
prioritize its needs and allocate its resources accordingly.
Finally, officers assigned to specialized units should
immediately receive training related to their new job duties. We
interviewed officers who were assigned to units ranging from the
detective bureau to community policing without any job-related
training. While important skills may be learned on the job, new
appointees nonetheless should be trained in the basic
responsibilities and techniques of their new assignments.
VIII.

The Field Training Officer Program

Well run police agencies have programs, such as a Field
Training Officer (FTO), in place to ensure new officers receive
post-academy training and mentoring from more experienced
officers. Although the EPD has a FTO program in place, at the
time of our visit EPD lacked standardized policies or procedures
for selecting, training, or evaluating FTOS. The EPD should
develop an impartial system to select FTOs, implement a
well-designed FTO selection procedure and take measures to assure
that FTOs are adequately trained. We recommend that the EPD work
with union officials to develop a structured program for
recruiting, selecting, training, and evaluating FTOs.
The EPD should formulate specific criteria for the selection
of FTOs from the ranks of qualified personnel with the clearly
established minimum qualifications. At a minimum, FTOs should
have several years of experience as police officers. FTOs should
have no adverse disciplinary actions that reflect a lack of

14

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C.
§ 2000d et seq. (attached here are documents that contain
examples of steps that might be taken or considered by EPD).

- 18 

integrity, use of excessive force or discriminatory behavior,
have favorable performance appraisals, and exhibit interpersonal
skills consistent with the coach/mentor function of an FTO.
Moreover, the EPD should adopt a structured training and
evaluation program for FTOs.
In addition, we recommend that the EPD take measures to
recruit and retain qualified FTOs, including providing additional
incentives to encourage officers to apply to become FTOs.
Possible incentives include greater monetary compensation or
priority for receiving training on new equipment (such as
weapons). We also recommend that EPD appoint its FTOs to serve
for a fixed term of approximately two years, renewable at the
discretion of the EPD based upon overall satisfactory
performance. Likewise, the EPD should develop a mechanism for
removing FTOs who fail to perform adequately. We would be happy
to provide the EPD with examples of FTO programs that other law
enforcement agencies have implemented with success.
IX.

Records Management/Technology
A.

Accessibility

EPD currently has no system that allows its officers to
access critical records and information resources after regular
business hours. Unless an officer in the field can contact
someone inside the police station, that officer cannot review any
case or suspect information stored in EPD’s computer network.
This limits officers’ ability to develop and consult criminal
intelligence files, among other resources. Moreover, officers
must return to the station to complete reports or update their
files. Mobile information technology is increasingly affordable,
and we recommend that EPD install mobile computer terminals which
are tied into a central resource in all of its patrol cars to
allow officers to communicate with one another and access data
from police records. In the alternative, EPD dispatchers should
be able to provide internal EPD information to officers in the
field.
Equally important, officers should be able to record
information on field contacts, i.e., information provided by
citizens or suspects encountered on patrol. Finally, officers
should record the race and gender of all traffic contacts. Such
information provides commanders with an important tool to prevent
racial profiling and to ensure traffic stops are consistent with
EPD policy and constitutional requirements.

- 19 

B.

Data Management

EPD lacks policies governing data collection and records
management and retention. Detectives store information in their
own hard-copy files or word processing documents rather than a
centralized, standardized system. Several officers reported that
important evidence had been lost because a former officer kept
files strewn all over his office. We recommend that EPD adopt
policies specifying the designated system for storing its
electronic and paper files. We also recommend the adoption of
policies establishing a minimum length of time for the retention
of these files/information.
We also understand that patrol officers use a system to log
incidents and store information, such as the name of the suspect,
the time, and a description of the incident. The use of
Metroalert provides some degree of uniformity and automated
searching capabilities. However, the Metroalert system is
antiquated. EPD is not utilizing all the data fields in
Metroalert, and some needed data fields, e.g., officer
deployment, simply do not exist in Metroalert. Given its current
personnel shortage, this data could be particularly useful to EPD
commanders. EPD’s data management software should allow command
staff to compare, for example, when and where the greatest number
of incidents occur with the time and place of officer deployment.
That information, in turn, would allow commanders to deploy
officers where they are most needed.
X.

Personnel
A.

Promotions, Testing and Assignments

As noted above, officers at all levels share a concern that
promotions and assignments were arbitrary and often appeared to
be based on personal favoritism. Our police practices
consultants (both former chiefs) were surprised at the frequency
at which officers were promoted, demoted, and reassigned in the
EPD – creating instability in the command structure. Within the
last two years, two line officers with no supervisory experience
were made captains, a former captain was demoted to sergeant, and
a former chief was demoted to the rank of patrolman and then
reappointed as chief. Similarly, the lieutenant in charge of
detectives was demoted and reassigned as a line officer in the
patrol division, while officers with little or no specialized
experience or supervisory experience were promoted and placed in
charge of specialized units.

- 20 

Other than the sergeant’s position, EPD does not require
testing or minimal rank for promotion, or for assignment to a
specialized unit, e.g., the detective division. Likewise, when
EPD job postings are advertised they fail to specify minimal job
requirements. Historically, officers without any supervisory
experience as a sergeant or lieutenant have been promoted from
patrol officer to captain. One officer reported asking a
supervisor about applying for an open position, and that officer
reportedly was told that there was no application process.
Without any testing, standards of selection, or objective
criteria, however, it is very difficult to determine who is the
most or least qualified.
Accordingly, we strongly recommend EPD to adopt a
standardized objective process for all promotion decisions and
appointment to specialized assignments in EPD. We further
recommend that promotions to higher supervisory ranks, i.e.,
captain and lieutenant, be limited to officers who have
previously served, at least some period of time in a
lower-ranking supervisory position.
Finally, many officers indicated that colleagues who either
lost or were otherwise negligent with their weapon, or who had
been charged or convicted of a crime, were promoted to
supervisory positions or allowed to continue serving in
supervisory positions. EPD needs clear standards of conduct,
including ranges of discipline/corrective action available for
different types of violations of law or policy. This should
include, in particular, guidelines regarding the types of
violations that can lead to demotion.
B.

Evaluations

An objective system, such as written performance
evaluations, for monitoring and evaluating an officers’
performance is another important tool for ensuring
accountability. EPD currently does not conduct routine,
standardized performance evaluations. EPD should conduct
evaluations at least once per year. Evaluations should be
uniform for each rank and division, and should cover such basic
issues as officer productivity, compliance with department
policy, training, and community relations. Evaluations should be
maintained in the officer’s personnel file (for supervisory
review) for the duration of his or her career (or as long as
allowable under applicable State law).

- 21 

C.

Job Descriptions

Closely related to evaluations, job descriptions give
officers reasonable notice of their duties and of a department’s
expectations. Moreover, the process of writing job descriptions
forces commanders to evaluate the priorities of officers, units,
and the department itself. Each position within EPD should have
a job description, whether the position is patrolman, detective,
captain of field services, or chief.
D.

Recruiting

We recently learned of EPD’s efforts to attract female and
minority applicants through television advertisements, and we
believe this is a very positive step. City personnel
acknowledged during interviews that the Department has far fewer
minority and female officers (only one African American and one
woman at the time of our visit) than one would expect in a
diverse community like Easton. However, the City has not kept
track of the race and gender of EPD applicants. This information
should be recorded and tracked to determine whether there is a
shortage of applicants or, if there is no shortage, where
applicants are lost in the hiring process.
We recommend that the Department review all its selection
processes, including hiring and promotion. The City also should
designate and train an Equal Employment Opportunity (“EEO”)
officer to ensure compliance with federal anti-discrimination
laws and to assist the Department in developing a more diverse
personnel roster. The police department in Montgomery, Alabama,
for example, was ordered to appoint an EEO officer to remedy
longstanding discrimination against minority and female officers.
See generally, Jordan v. Wilson, 667 F. Supp. 772 (M.D. Ala.
1987).
XI.

Conclusion

We strongly urge EPD to closely review and consider these
technical assistance recommendations as it revises its policies
and procedures. We hope this letter will assist in our mutual
goal of ensuring that EPD provides the best possible police
service to the people of Easton. We look forward to continued
cooperation toward this goal. Where possible, we would be happy
to provide examples of policies and procedures used by other

- 22 

police departments that might address some of the issues we have
raised in this letter.
Sincerely,
/s/ Shanetta Y. Cutlar
Shanetta Y. Cutlar
Chief
Special Litigation Section
Enclosures
cc:	 William K. Murphy, City Solicitor
David J. MacMain, Esq.
Montgomery, McCracken, Walker, & Rhoads, LLP
Chief Larry Palmer, Easton Police Department

 

 

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