The News Journal of Wilmington, Delaware spoke to PARC's Matthew Barge about the state's Attorney General advocating for revisions in use of force policies similar to those implemented in Seattle and pending before a federal Court in Cleveland:
Seattle's policy, which was adopted in 2013, gives responding officers guidance in de-escalation and techniques "that seek to minimize the likelihood of the need to use force during an incident and increase the likelihood of voluntary compliance," but only when it is safe and circumstances reasonably permit. The tactics can include:
--Placing barriers between an uncooperative person and an officer. For example, using a vehicle as a shield.
--Calling in extra resources or officers to assist during confrontations. This would include bringing in a crisis intervention team and officers equipped with less-lethal tools.
--These should not be new concepts to police, said Matthew Barge, co-executive director of the Police Assessment Resource Center, which helped craft and monitor reforms in Cleveland and Seattle. He said these policies do not interfere with an officer's daily work.
"No one is saying that you have to be a weenie and that you are not allowed to use force when it is reasonable and necessary and proportional under the circumstances," Barge said. "This is not some massively new and foreign set of concepts or requirements.
"These are things that ring bells for officers."
While not everything may be perfect, Barge said this suggests that there have been some important corners turned, especially since implementation in Seattle.
"Bottom line is that use of force incidents overall have gone down," he said. "At the same time crime and officer injury has not gone up at all and community confidence and trust has overall gone up."