State Attorney General’s Model Use of Force Policy for Law Enforcement Agencies

Today the Washington State Attorney General published a model “use of force” policy for agencies to use to guide them in adopting their own policies. The model policy, at least in part, attempts to provide guidance on how to meet the recent changes to state law related to officers’ use of force.

Among the recommendations in the model policy:

  • Chokeholds and neck restraints are prohibited under state law.
  • Officers witnessing another officer engaging or attempting to engage in the use of excessive force have a duty to intervene, and also a duty to report the incident.
  • All law enforcement personnel must provide or facilitate first aid such that it is rendered at the earliest safe opportunity to injured persons at a scene controlled by law enforcement.
  • Officers may not use deadly force against persons who only present a danger to themselves and not to other persons.
  • OC spray is not appropriate in an enclosed, highly populated space where the is likelihood of impacting uninvolved persons, except where OC spray is the only available and appropriate use of force option.
  • Tasers shall be carried on the “support” side of the body (i.e. not the pistol-side), and in all but extreme circumstances officers shall draw, exhibit and use it with the support (non-pistol-firing) hand.
  • Pointing a firearm at a person is a reportable use of force and its justification and circumstances shall be documented in accordance with the statewide use of force data collection program.

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