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Vermont Pd Policy on Use of Force 2010

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Related Policies:

Response to Resistance
This policy is for internal use only and does not enlarge an employee's civil liability in any
way. The policy should not be construed as creating a higher duty of care, in an evidentiary
sense, with respect to third party civil claims against employees. A violation of this policy, if
proven, can only form the basis of a complaint by this department for non-judicial
administrative action in accordance with the laws governing employee discipline.
Applicable Vermont Statutes:
CALEA Standard: 1.3.1, 1.3.2, 1.3.5, 1.3.6., 1.3.7, 1.3.8., 1.3.9, 1.3.10, 26.1.1
Date Implemented:

I Review Date:

I.

Purpose: The purpose of this policy is to direct officers in the appropriate response to
resistance.

II.

Policy: The policy of this department is to protect and serve all citizens while at the same
time respecting the rights of suspects and balancing the need for officer safety in
response to resistance events. It is the policy of this department that officers will use
only reasonable force to bring an incident or event under control. Reasonable force is
only that force which is necessary to accomplish lawful objectives. All responses to
resistance must be objectively reasonable.

III. Definitions:
A. Deadly Force: Any force that creates a substantial likelihood of causing serious
bodily harm or death.
B. Non-Deadly Force: All uses of force other than those that is likely to cause serious
bodily harm or death.
C. Imminent: Impending or about to occur.

D. Objectively Reasonable: The amount of force that would be used by other
reasonable and well-trained officers when faced with the circumstances that the
officer using the force is presented with.
E. Reasonable Belief: Reasonable belief means that the person concerned, acting as a
reasonable person, believes that the prescribed facts exist.

F.

Serious Bodily Harm/lnjury: Serious bodily injury shall mean bodily injury which
involves a substantial risk of death, or which involves substantial risk of serious
permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any part
or organ of the body.

G. Active resistance: a subject actively resists when they take affirmative action to
defeat an officer's ability to take them into custody.
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H. Electronic Control Device: Electronic Control Devices, TASER, ™ or stun-guns
(electronic control weapons) that disrupt the central nervous system of the body.
IV. Procedure:
A. In determining the appropriate level of response to a subject's resistance an officer
should consider:
a.

How serious is the offense the officer suspected at the time the particular force
used?

b. What was the physical threat to the officer or others?
c.

Was the subject actively resisting or attempting to evade arrest by flight?

B. Force Options: Officers have several force options that will be dictated by the actions
of the suspect upon the appearance of the police officer. Officers may be limited in
their options due to the circumstances and actions of the subject. For example, an
officer who immediately observes a subject with a firearm unjustifiably threatening
another may immediately respond with deadly force without considering other force
options.
a.

Command Presence: Visual appearance of officer where it is obvious to the
subject due to the officer's uniform or identification that the officer has the authority
of law.

b. Verbal Commands: Words spoken by the officer directing the subject as to the
officer's expectations.
c.

Soft Empty Hand Control: Officer's use of hands on the subject to direct the
subject's movement; Techniques that have a low potential of injury to the subject.

d. Chemical Spray: Where subject exhibits some level of active resistance/active
aggression, officers may use chemical spray to temporary incapacitate the subject.
e.

Electronic Control Devices: Where subject exhibits some level of active
resistance/active aggression an officer may use an electronic control device to
temporarily incapacitate the subject.

f.

Hard Hand Control: Punches and other physical strikes, including knees, kicks
and elbow strikes that have the possibility of creating mental stunning and/or
motor dysfunction.

g.

Impact Weapons: Batons, ASP/Expandable Batons may be utilized in cases
where officers believe the use of these weapons would be reasonable to bring the
event under control. Examples would be where other options have been utilized
and failed or where, based on the officer's perception at the time, the other options
would not be successful in bringing the event to a successful conclusion.

h.

Canine: Use of canine to bite and hold subject to prevent escape or to gain control
of a subject who is actively aggressing toward officer(s). Prior to deployment of a
canine, a warning in the form of an announcement shall be made.

i.

Deadly Force: Any force that creates a substantial likelihood of causing serious
bodily harm or death

C. Deadly Force: The use of deadly force is objectively reasonable when:
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a.

The officer is faced with an imminent threat of serious bodily harm or death to
him/herself, or some other person who is present, or;

b. To prevent the escape of an individual in cases where the officer has probable
cause to believe that the subject has committed a violent felony involving the
infliction or threatened infliction of serious bodily harm or death AND by the
subject's escape they pose an imminent threat of serious bodily harm or death to
another.
c.

Officers should warn the subject prior to using deadly force where feasible.

D. Once the subject's active resistance has ceased and control has been gained an
officer is no longer authorized to use force. Officers should immediately provide any
necessary medical assistance to the subject to the degree to which they are trained
and provide for emergency medical response where needed.
E. Discharge of Firearms Restrictions:

F.

a.

Warning shots are prohibited.

b.

Discharge of firearms is prohibited when the officer is presented with an
unreasonable risk to innocent third parties.

c.

When a moving vehicle is involved, use of deadly force by discharging a firearm is
dangerous, can be ineffective, and should not occur when there is an
unreasonable risk to the safety of persons other than the subject. Whenever
possible, officers should avoid placing themselves in a position where use of
deadly force is the only alternative.

d.

Even when deadly force is justified, firearms shall not be discharged at a vehicle
unless:
i.

The officer has a reasonable belief that an occupant of the vehicle poses an
imminent threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or another
person, or

ii.

The officer has a reasonable belief that an occupant is using the vehicle in a
manner that poses an imminent threat of death or serious physical injury to
the officer or another person, and there is no avenue of escape.

iii.

Officers shall consider the potential threat to innocent third parties under such
circumstances.

Less-Lethal WeaponslTactics: Prior to deployment of any less-lethal weapon,
officers must be trained and certified in the proper use of the weapon from both the
technical and legal aspects. All deployments must be consistent with departmental
use of force training and policy.
a.

Chemical Spray:
i.

Chemical Spray shall not be deployed as a compliance technique for a
person who is passively or verbally non-compliant. Active resistance/active
aggression shall be required.

ii.

Chemical Spray shall never be used as a punitive measure.

iii.

Officers should never spray from a pressurized can directly into a subject's
eyes from a close distance due to the potential for eye injury as a result of the
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pressurized stream. Officers should never spray directly into a subject's eyes
from closer than three feet or the distance recommended by the manufacturer
of the spray (whichever is shorter) unless deadly force would be justified.

b.

iv.

Officers shall consider alternatives to chemical spray when attempting to
control a subject in a crowded-enclosed area due to the innocent over-spray
that may cause the onset of panic.

v.

Officers shall consider alternatives to chemical spray when the event is inside
a building, particularly where the building has a closed-ventilation system due
to the potential impact on innocent persons who may have to be evacuated
(temporarily) from the locations.

vi.

Once control is gained, officers should immediately provide for the
decontamination of the subject.

vii.

If the person shows any signs of physical distress or does not recover in a
reasonable amount of time, officers should immediately direct an emergency
medical response and render first-aid at the degree for which they are trained.

Electronic Control Devices
i.

An electronic control device as a force option is the same level of force as
chemical spray.

ii.

Electronic Control Device must be worn on the weak-side in either a weakhand draw or cross-draw position.

iii.

Electronic Control Device deployment shall not be considered for the
passively resistant subject. Active resistance/active aggression shall be
required.

iv.

Flight from an officer, standing alone, is not a justification for the use of an
electronic control device. Officers should consider the nature of the offense
suspected, the level of suspicion with respect to the person fleeing, and the
risk of danger to others if the person is not apprehended immediately.

v.

Officers must be trained concerning the ability of electrical charge to act as an
ignition for combustible materials. (Note: Officers have been seriously injured
and or killed after deploying a Electronic Control Device in the presence of
open natural gas during suicidal person call).

vi.

Multiple Electronic Control Device deployments against an individual may
increase the likelihood of serious injury where the individual is suffering from
other symptoms such as cocaine intoxication. Policy and training should
encourage officers to minimize the successive number of discharges against
an individual where possible.

vii.

The agency recognizes however, particularly where back-up officers are
unavailable, that multiple applications may be necessary to gain or maintain
control of a combative individual.

viii. No more than one officer should deploy an electronic control device against a
single individual at the same time.
ix.

A contributing factor to serious injury or death is the level of a subject's
exhaustion. Studies recommend that when an officer believes that control of
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a subject will be necessary and met with resistance, deployment of the
Electronic Control Device should be considered early on in the event so that
the person has not reached a level of exhaustion prior to the Electronic
Control Device's use.
x.

In cases where subject is actively resisting an officer's attempt to take them
into custody but not threatening the officer with an assault, it is recommended
that the Electronic Control Device be used in the "push stun mode."

xi.

The preferred targeting is the center mass of the subject's back, however it is
recognized that it is not always possible to get behind the subject.

xii.

Where back-targeting is not possible, frontal targeting should be lower center
mass; intentional deployments to the chest shall be avoided where possible.

xiii. Officers who are aware that a female subject is pregnant shall not use the
Electronic Control Device unless deadly force would be justified due to the
danger created by the secondary impact or the possibility of muscle
contractions leading to premature birth.
xiv. Officers shall make all reasonable efforts to avoid striking persons in the
head, neck, eyes or genitals.
xv.

Officers are prohibited from using the device as a punitive measure.

xvi. Electronic Control Devices shall not be used against a person who is in
physical control of a vehicle in motion unless deadly force would be justified
based on an existing imminent threat.
xvii. A warning prior to discharge is preferred but not always necessary for this
type of force to be considered reasonable. Model policies as well as courts
have noted that giving a subject, who is assaultive toward the officer, a
warning may enhance the danger to the officer and the subject by giving the
subject time to avoid the deployment.
xviii. Officers should warn other officers that a deployment is about to occur.
xix. The device should not be used on a handcuffed person to force compliance
unless the subject poses a threat to the officer through physical conduct or
active resistance cannot otherwise be controlled.
xx.

Officers should consider the location and environment of the subject. i.e. Is
the subject at the top of a stairwell such that when incapacitated by the
Electronic Control Device they fall down the stairs causing a collateral injury.
Officers shall avoid using Electronic Control Device in cases where the
subject is elevated i.e. roof, fire escape, tree, bridge, stairwell, etc. etc. such
that the secondary impact may cause serious injury

xxi. Officers should be aware that a subject's heavy clothing may impact the
effectiveness of the Electronic Control Device.
xxii. Officers should consider whether the subject has been exposed to
combustible elements that may be on their person such as gasoline. The use
of an Electronic Control Device on such persons may cause an ignition and
fire.
xxiii. Officers should consider the particular subject and any vulnerabilities they
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may have such as: juveniles, pregnant women, persons who are small in
stature, and the elderly.

xxiv. Alternative tactics shall be utilized where the officer has prior information that
the subject suffers from a disability which would increase the danger to that
person by using the Electronic Restraint Device. i.e. A person at the scene
tells an officer that the subject has a heart condition.
xxv. Deployed probes that have been removed from a suspect should be treated
as a bio-hazard.

xxvi. Where EMS is available, their services may be utilized for the removal of
darts that have penetrated the skin as long as such removal can be
accomplished without causing further injury or pain to the subject.
xxvii. All persons who have been the subject of an Electronic Control Device
deployment shall be cleared medically and monitored for a period of time with
a focus on symptoms of physical distress. Any person who appears to be
having any form of physical distress following the deployment of an ECD, shall
be transported to a medical facility for a medical examination. It should be
noted that studies indicate that persons who suffer from excited delirium may
not be immediately impacted and the onset of difficulty may occur a period of
time after the police control event.
xxviii.

Mandatory Medical Clearance at Hospital:

(a) Persons struck in a sensitive area-eyes, head, genitals, female breasts.
(b) Where the probes have penetrated the skin and EMS cannot safely remove
darts in accord with this policy.
(c) Persons who do not appear to have fully recovered after a short period of
time (Model Policies use a ten-minute time limit, however, officers who
observe unusual physical distress should immediately call for medical
assistance and should not wait the ten-minute recovery period
recommended by some of the model policies)
(d) Persons who fall into one of the vulnerable classes such as juveniles,
pregnant women, persons who are small in stature, persons who officers
become aware have a pre-existing medical condition that increases danger
and the elderly.
(e) Subjects who request medical assistance.

xxix. Additional Documentation:
(a) All deployments of an Electronic Control Device shall be documented
including those cases where a subject complies once threatened with such
a device. By documenting the non-discharge uses, an agency establishes
officer judgment and control as well as the deterrent effect of this tool.
Documentation shall be done using the Response to Active Resistance
(RAR) form detailed in this policy.
(b) Photographs of the affected area should be taken following the removal of
darts from the subject to document any injury.
(c) Supervisory personnel shall be notified and shall review all Electronic
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Control Device deployment for consistency with policy and training.
(d) Darts/Cartridges shall be properly stored and maintained as evidence
following a discharge.
(e) Officers are required to complete a "response to active resistance form"
which shall be reviewed by a supervisor following the ECD use.
(f) All deployments shall be reviewed by the agency as well as training

personnel.
(g) Where there is any indication of lasting injury, claim or complaint, internal
data from device shall be maintained. All ECD units will be audited monthly
to ensure that all deployment/activations have been reported as required.
c.

d.

V.

Impact Weapons: Batons, ASP/Expandable Baton
i.

Impact weapons may be utilized in cases where the officers believe the use of
these weapons would be reasonable to bring the event under control.

ii.

Examples would be where other options have been utilized and failed or
where, based on the officer's perception at the time, the other options would
not be successful in bringing the event to a successful conclusion.

iii.

Officers shall not intentionally strike a person in the head with an impact
weapon unless deadly force would be justified.

iv.

Impact tools as non-impact weapons: Officer may use impact tools for nonimpact strike techniques such as come-a longs and restraint holds in
accordance with agency training.

Immediate measure of defense - Where necessary an officer may take action or
use any implement to defend the officer's life or safety, or the life or safety of
another, with implements or devices not normally intended to be weapons or
issued as public safety equipment.

Reporting Response to Active Resistance:
A. Purpose: It is the purpose of this policy to provide police employees and supervisors
with guidelines for reporting response to active resistance. The department will
develop a Response to Active Resistance (RAR) form to capture all required
information described in this policy.

B. Policy: Police officers are given the authority to use force to overcome a subject's
resistance to the officer's order to comply, effect arrest, defend against assault, and
prohibit flight. This policy mandates that members of the Department accurately,
completely and timely report subject control of active resistance and a supervisor
conducts a prompt investigation and reports this investigation findings.
VI.

Definitions:
A.

Reportable response to active resistance: Verbal commands, soft-empty hand
control, and handcuffing do not require a separate reporting form. The following are
reportable force options when used by an officer to compel compliance from a subject
in conformance with the officer's official duties, whether on or off duty or while
employed in an off duty paid detail, include:

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a.

Chemical Spray: Where subject exhibits some level of active resistance/active
aggression, officers may use chemical spray to temporary incapacitate the subject.

b.

Electronic Control Devices: Where subject exhibits some level of active
resistance/active aggression an officer may use an electronic control device to
temporarily incapacitate the subject. (See additional documentation-ECO section)

c.

Hard Hand Control: Punches and other physical strikes, including knees, kicks
and elbow strikes that have the possibility of creating mental stunning and/or
motor dysfunction.

d. Impact Weapons: Batons, ASP/Expandable Baton may be utilized in cases where
the officers believe the use of these weapons would be reasonable to bring the
event under control. Examples would be where other options have been utilized
and failed or where based on the officer's perception at the time, the other options.
e.

Impact Weapons: Batons, ASP/Expandable baton may also be used for nonimpact techniques such as come-alongs and restraints as trained by this agency.

f.

Pointing of Firearms: Any time an officer points a firearm at an individual,
notwithstanding the fact that deadly force is not ultimately deployed. This does not
include drawing a firearm and maintaining at the low-ready position.

g.

Firearms discharges: Any discharge of a firearm other than at the range or
during qualification whether unintentional, for animal dispatch, or whether a
subject is hit or not will be reported in a separate manner consistent with these
policies.

h. Canine use: Use of a police canine will be reported on a special form to capture
any form of use whether there is contact with a subject or not.
i.

Deadly Force: Force that creates a substantial likelihood of causing serious bodily
harm or death.

B. Procedures:
a.

Officers who become involved in an incident that required any reportable force
option are required to immediately notify their supervisor. The involved officer will
provide a detailed documentation of the use of force utilized in the official police
report prepared for the incident involved.

b. A Report of Response Active Resistance (RAR) form shall be prepared by a
supervisor whenever an officer of this agency utilizes reportable force, as
described in the definition of this policy, in the performance of their duties.
c.

The RAR form will be completed in detail including a narrative account of the
following:

i.

The actions of the subject that necessitated that use of force as a response to
overcome the active resistance of the subject.

ii.

The reasons why force was required and the type of force the officer utilized
in overcoming the resistant subject.

iii.

Any injuries or complaint of injuries of either the subject or the officer and any
medical treatment received.

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C. Supervisory Responsibilities: Once notified of an incident in which an officer has
utilized force, the supervisor, to the extent that one is· available, will immediately
respond to the scene to investigate the incident. If the involved officer's supervisor is
not available to respond, another supervisor will be dispatched to complete the RAR.
The supervisor will accomplish the following investigative steps in conducting the
investigation:
a.

Interview the involved subject if they are cooperative, to determine their account of
the incident. If they expressly indicate they have a complaint the supervisor shall
complete a Public Service Report. If they have any type of injury, Internal Affairs or
the designated departmental IA person will be notified. Additionally, should the
supervisor determine that unreasonable force was utilized, the Internal Affairs
designated investigator will be notified and assume control of the response to
resistance investigation.

b.

If a crime scene exists, or police equipment exists, which may contain forensic
evidence, the supervisor shall ensure that the scene and evidence is processed,
photographed and preserved.

c.

Take photographs of the involved officer(s) and subject(s) depicting any potential
injuries or documenting the lack of any injuries to the parties involved.

d.

Interview, preferably recorded, all witnesses to the incident and document their
description of the event.

e.

Ensure that a qualified health care provider handles any injuries or other medical
condition being experienced by the involved person.

f.

The supervisor shall review any video recording of the incident, if available, prior to
the completion of the RAR and the approval of the officer's reports

g. The supervisor investigating the use of reportable force shall be responsible for
the review and approval of the officer's reports of the incident, when practicable.
h. The supervisor will complete the RAR prior to completing their shift and submit it
along with the officer's report to their chain of command for review.

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RESPONSE TO RESISTANCE FORM
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DATE OF INCIDENT _ _ I

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INCIDENT LOCATION

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TIME OF INCIDENT - - - - -

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PRESENCE

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DEADLY FORCE

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YES

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FIREARM

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PRESENCE
RESTRAINT DEVICES
HANDCUFFS

STRIKES:

FIELD

ARM BAR

PUNCH

BENT WRIST

BENT WRIST

PALM HEEL

PRESSURE POINT

FINGER LOCK

HAMMER FIST

LEG IRONS

FINGER LOCK

SHOULDER LOCK

FOREARM

HOBBLE

SHOULDER LOCK

HAMMER LOCK

ELBOW

HAMMER LOCK

CALF STRIKE PULL DOWN

KNEE STRIKE

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0

LEG KICK
CHEMICAL (OC OR OTHER)

BATON

(CIRCLE APPROPRIATE DEVICE)

FULL INCAPACITATION

FORE HAND STRIKE

PARTIAL INCAPACITATION

REVERSE STRIKE

No ApPARENT AFFECT

CLOSED BATON STRIKE

M26/ X26 TASER
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NUMBER OF CYCLES
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EFFECTIVE

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M26/ X26 SERIAL #

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CARTRIDGES(S) SERIAL #(S)

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DEPLOYMENT DISTANCE

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DISTANCE

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NUMBER OF HITS TO TARGET
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SHOTS ACCOUNTED FOR
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