BATON ROUGE – Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome held a press conference Thursday morning outlining several new policies for the Baton Rouge Police Department regarding use of force.
On Thursday, Broome stated that her administration had examined the department's use of force policy and agreed upon the following changes that will be implemented immediately:
- Officers are required to give a verbal warning before using deadly force except where there are extingent circumstances.
- Officers are required to de-escalate situations when possible before using force. De-escalation strategies include: disengagement, area containment, waiting out a subject, summoning re-enforcements, calling in specialized units, or other strategies.
- Officers will not employ choke holds or strangleholds except in emergency circumstances where it is immediately necessary to use deadly force and the authorized weapons are inoperable, not accessible or not available.
- Officers are prohibited from discharging a firearm at a moving vehicle unless the vehicle or the passengers pose an immediate deadly threat to others.
- Officers will be required to intervene to prevent another officer from using excessive force and to immediately report they observed the use of excessive force by another officer.
Broome has been vocal about the need for change in the police department in efforts to better the relationship between the community and police since starting her campaign for Mayor-President.
"Today is about policy changes that are important for our community to move our community forward as we work to close the gap and build and strengthen relationships between law enforcement and the citizens in our community," she said.
The mayor stated that she believes the policy changes will compliment existing training and "enhance the existing BRPD policies." In addition, she said that the policy changes will also serve as a mechanism for accountability. The accountability measure would be the same as any other instance where policy is not adhered to, which is handled within the department, according to Broome.
She further explained that BRPD officers are already trained in many of the policy issues, however "there is a difference between training and then putting this in policy."
According to Broome, there is "no need to go through an outside avenue" to change the department's policies regarding the use of excessive force. The mayor concluded the press conference by stating that the "overall goal is mutual respect."
"Police officers should be respected and the citizens of this community should be respected," Broome said.
Together Baton Rouge released the following statement about Broome's new plan:
"Embracing these practices officially as policy is important, because it gives them teeth and makes them enforceable, which is what has been proven across hundreds of cities to reduce instances of excessive force. Together Baton Rouge congratulates Mayor-President Broome on this important policy change to strengthen our police department and is proud to have played a role in its development."
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