SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- In the last few days, the Scotch Plains Police Department has received numerous inquiries asking the department to join the #8CantWait project by Campaign Zero. This campaign asks that police departments address, and take action, in eight categories in an effort to decrease police violence. In Scotch Plains, officers are trained to use only the amount of force that is necessary for the given situation.
The eight categories include:
- Ban Chokeholds & Strangleholds
- Require De-Escalation
- Require Warning before Shooting
- Requires Exhaust All Alternatives Before Shooting
- Duty to Intervene
- Ban Shooting at Moving Vehicles
- Require Use of Force Continuum
- Require Comprehensive Reporting
Scotch Plains Police Chief Ted Conley outlined the training and procedures for each category the project addresses:
1. Ban Chokeholds & StrangleholdsWe are not allowed to use, nor do we train any officers in the use of chokeholds orstrangleholds. The only time that it would be acceptable for an officer to use one of these techniques would be as a last resort. For instance: If they were fighting for their life and or if protecting a person who was having deadly force used against them.2. Require De-EscalationEvery officer is trained to take every step possible to de-escalate a potentially violent situation.
3. Require Warning before ShootingAll officers are taught to give warning before shooting during their use of force training as wellas during firearms training. The only time a warning is not required, is if it would put the officer or an innocent bystander in harm’s way by making the announcement.4. Requires Exhaust All Alternatives Before ShootingThe discharging of a firearm is only to be used as a last resort. Again, it must be a lethal forcesituation before an officer fires his or her weapon.5. Duty to InterveneEvery police officer has a duty to intervene if they are witness to any criminal activity takingplace. This is especially important for officers to do if they see a fellow officer engaging inbehavior that could cause physical harm to an individual which would be considered anexcessive use of force.
6. Ban Shooting at Moving VehiclesOfficers are prohibited from shooting at any moving vehicles. The only exception is if have the vehicle is posing a deadly threat to the officer or to an innocent bystander (i.e. the vehicle is heading right for them, and they have nowhere to go to get out of the way).7. Require Use of Force ContinuumThere is a use of force continuum that is used to teach every officer in NJ. The levels are:1. Constructive Authority -- No physical contact; verbal commands and gestures only, etc.2. Physical Contact -- Guiding a suspect to a vehicle; using hands to put on handcuffs3. Physical Force -- Wrestling a non-cooperating suspect to the ground, wrist locks, arm locks, etc.4. Mechanical Force -- The use of baton, chemical agent or canine.5. Less than Lethal Force -- Firing of bean bags or rubber bullets, etc.6. Lethal / Deadly Force -- The use of a firearm or any other device that is being intention of causing death or serious bodily harm.8. Require Comprehensive ReportingAll NJ police officers must fill out a “Use of Force Report” when any of the above uses occur.