TASER CONSULTANT STUDY COMPLETED WELL AFTER PURCHASE
Citynewswatch has acquired a copy of the PERF (Police Executive Research Forum) report that was commissioned by Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Chief Rodney Monroe regarding use of “Electronic Control Weapons” or ECW’s (brand name TASERs) in Charlotte.
Rodney Monroe and the City of Charlotte initially claimed they commissioned the study to help them decide about making a purchase of new TASER X-2’s that cost tax payers almost $2 Million. However, the date on this PERF investigative research is not until November 7, 2011—a full SEVEN weeks after TASER came to celebrate the purchase, and started advertising the purchase all over the internet as a way to promote sales to other Law Enforcement Agencies.
In addition, that purchase was not approved by City Council until the evening of September 26th, just after executives, legal representatives, and media experts from TASER, INC. came to treat the CMPD brass to lunch and tips on how to handle the press and those pesky legal issues.
Then there’s the odd thing that contained in the PERF study that Monroe says he commissioned to decide how to proceed about ECW’s is a conclusion that CMPD “plan a Cautious, Measured Reintroduction of ECWs. It is the department’s intention to issue the newly acquired X-2 TASERs® to its officers…”
So much for a careful study of what action to take.
Next, we discovered the purchase contracts for the TASER PURCHASE and the PERF STUDY were signed on the same date—late October. CMPD attorney Judy Emken had sent written notice that the contracts were not signed a few days before they were… well it’s just all a mess. And there was no executable date on the PERF contract at all. See all the details here.
No one from the City Attorney’s office, the City Council, or City Manager will answer questions about these questionable practices (at least not yet).
PERF CONTRACT FINALLY IN HAND
Here are some highlights from the PERF study
Police Executive Research Forum
Review of Electronic Control Weapon Polices and Training in the
Charlotte–Mecklenburg Police Department
…to conduct a review of it policies, training and practices as they
relate to the deployment of Electronic Control Weapons. PERF collected written directives, training curricula, lesson plans and other documents relevant to the use of ECWs, as well as information regarding all ECW deployments in the field over a 2 ½ year period including two instances in which ECW deaths occurred. PERF then interviewed members of the CMPD command staff and other members with expertise in key areas to address questions necessary to gain a thorough understanding of the practices and methods governed by the collected written directives and training materials.
PERF convened a two-day meeting of the panel at the CMPD on October 15-16, 2011.
…panelists personally met with and interviewed the Chief, command staff and others regarding any remaining clarification of issues before convening their own meeting.
The panel discussions and deliberation included:
• critical events leading to Chief Monroe’s decision to engage PERF and temporarily suspend ECW use,
•how ECW use is integrated into the CMPD’s existing Use of Force Policies,
• the level at which ECWs are currently placed in the CMPD’s force continuum,
• prohibitions and restrictions on use of ECWs,
• the amount of officer discretion that is granted,
• ECW incident reporting – supervisory review – and use of information captured by ECWs,
• existing ECW policy, training, and practice compared to nationally accepted best practices, including the 2011 Electronic control Weapon Guidelines developed as a joint project of PERF and the Community Oriented Policing Services Office of the U.S. Department of Justice.
• further steps CMPD should consider to minimize risk associated to ECW use.
PERF recommended six key areas that needed to be changed:
1. Authorize ECW Use When Faced with Active Aggression. The CMPD’s Written Directives 600-019, 600-019A, and 600-020 should be modified to reflect that officers are authorized to deploy ECWs in response to Active Aggression or Aggravated Active Aggression – at the same level as impact weapons. Consistent terms and definitions describing justification for ECW use should be used throughout the department’s written directives and training materials.
The current placement of ECWs in the Use of Force Continuum2 does not clearly identify the actions for which ECW use is appropriate. By aligning the conditions for ECW use with those of impact weapons, officers will have unambiguous guidance as to when the use of en ECW is sanctioned.
2. Strengthen Focus on Decision Making, De-escalation and Defensive Tactics. The department’s training has for years emphasized the importance of decision making, strategically placing it before tactics in the recruit curriculum. With the impending acquisition of new and versatile simulation (FATS) equipment, there will be more training opportunities to challenge officers’ decision-making skills and encourage them – when safe to do so – to resolve situations by slowing things down, de-escalating overall tension and stress, utilizing available resources and working toward a solution that avoids or minimizes use of force.
This is not to suggest that officers are not making good decisions or relying heavily on force, but rather to dispel long-standing thinking by officers that when they attend firearms training it is only about marksmanship and proficiency. Whether it is firearms or ECWs, effective decision-making can be developed when training demands officers to consider the full range of available options (i.e. de-escalation, defensive tactics, and a spectrum of weapons).
3. Emphasize the Need for Better Understanding When Dealing with Special Populations. The mentally ill, persons in severe stress (i.e. excited delirium), those suffering from disabilities or significant medical conditions, non-English speaking persons, pregnant women, children and the elderly can all present challenges to officers responding to calls in which they must deal with their special needs. This is particularly 2 The CMPD Use of Force Continuum is reflected on page 14 of this report. true when officers seek compliance with their lawful orders. Whether it is because the person does not understand the commands given, or cannot or refuses to comply because of an underlying complication (e.g. pregnant women or elderly persons unable to get down quickly, if at all), officers must engage in an assessment of the actual threat and respond with the best option(s) for the situation and the capabilities or limitations of the persons involved. CMPD training already acknowledges that conflict resolution as a wider issue than just when or how to utilize any particular force option. For example, in recruit training, communications and persuasive skills are taught before officers are trained in defensive tactics and use of weapons. With the acquisition of new simulation equipment, the department intends to further challenge officers to find the best way – from a wide range of options – to resolve problems that are presented. This is a good start. However, there should be emphasis on the balance between officers’ obligations to protect themselves and innocent others and minimizing harm to the subject of the call. There should be consideration given to the severity of the threat the subject poses to the public. This is especially true when dealing with special populations when a subject’s actions may not be understood. Resolving conflict when dealing with all those who fall within special populations can often be more complex than among the general population. Non-traditional solutions may be called for. To better train officers to recognize the best solutions under stress, and while dealing with persons who may themselves be under stress, or whose compliance with orders may be restricted because of a limiting aspect of their condition, the department should rely on experts within the mental health community and other medical professionals to assist in the design of key aspects of this training. Training of this nature needs to be expanded to include all officers, but especially those in the field regularly called upon to resolve problems, and who make force decisions. Training is also vital for first-line supervisors whose prompt presence at critical incidents and experience is invaluable. Classroom training should include not only de-escalation and calming techniques which are particularly helpful when dealing with the mentally ill and persons under severe stress, but also specifics about other special populations, and the conditions that can be obstacles to officers’ attempts to resolve problems in the best possible way. Simulated scenario training should integrate the use of persuasive skills as well as present officers with situations involving special populations in which force-free and minimal-force solutions are achievable and desirable.
4. Stage Resources When Responding to High Risk Calls. Working to accomplish the best outcome does not rest completely with responding officers. Pursuant to policy, when telecommunicators suspect a case of excited delirium they are to relay that information to responding officers and initiate an EMS response. This should be expanded to any situation about which a telecommunicator has concern that a person under extreme stress or suffering from a condition that could present a risk to him/herself, the officer, or others. In these instances, a supervisor should be dispatched to the call. When requested by the responding officer or supervisor, a Crisis Intervention trained officer, if available, should be dispatched. When in the responding supervisor’s judgment the call poses significant risk, the supervisor may opt to stage the response to allow adequate or special resources to arrive in a coordinated manner and thereby increase control and reduce risk to officers and subjects. It has been the experience of other departments that a staged response with prompt supervisory arrival can tend to “slow down” or calm circumstances that otherwise could compel a first arriving officer to take an escalated force action.
5. Review Some Use of Force Reports at the Executive Command level. Use of Force Reports should continue to be reviewed by the officer’s chain of command – with each reviewer having the opportunity to return the report to the supervisor who completed it for additional detail or re-evaluation of justification, or forward the matter to the Internal Affairs Division for further investigation. However the final review of reports involving more than hard empty hand control should rest with a designated member of the Chief’s Executive Staff, who also may approve the report as written, send it back for additional detail or revaluation of justification, or forward the matter to the Internal Affairs Division for further investigation. This review should focus not only on the completeness of Use of Force Reports and command’s assessment of findings, but also the identification of patterns, trends or changes in the challenges facing officers that justify use of force and how officers are reacting to these challenges. Having this review conducted by a direct report to the Chief (if just for this quality control purpose) will help to ensure a greater degree of consistency among organizational components and an awareness by all of the importance placed on accurate reporting and comprehensive, meaningful investigation/review of use of force incidents. Moreover, because reviews could potentially identify concerns with training, investigations, or policy, the authority of the official vested with this responsibility should be at a level to direct organizational activities. Copies of all Use of Force Reports should be directed to the Training Division for review to identify areas in which future training should be considered and specific situations that could serve as the basis for future scenario training.
6. Plan a Cautious, Measured Reintroduction of ECWs. It is the department’s intention to issue the newly acquired X 2 TASERs® to its officers once policies and training revisions are completed and officers are trained on the new weapon. This reintroduction of ECWs to field officers will be incremental. As officers complete the required training, they will be permitted to carry them. Given the number of officers to be trained and outfitted with these weapons, this will take a minimum of 27 training days. However, it is recommended that the department coordinate the reintroduction of ECWs with public information releases describing the steps that have been taken to safeguard both the public and officers. As the new ECWs are issued, the public should be informed of the department’s initiatives, which include:
• The revision of ECW policies and enhancement of ECW training materials.
• The purchase of new ECWs that reduce risk by limiting cycle time.
• The retraining of all officers with the new model ECW.
• The department’s impending acquisition of a new simulator training system that will integrate firearm, ECW, and other defensive tactical training with instruction in de-escalation techniques.
• The adoption of a coordinated response approach to high-risk calls in order to enhance incident management and risk reduction.
• A renewed training focus to reinforce the department’s efforts in finding non-force resolutions whenever possible and relying on force only when necessary. Informing the public of these initiatives in an honest and transparent manner and stressing the department’s need to keep both the public and officers safe is essential in gaining community understanding and support. The department cannot rely solely on the media to make its efforts known. Officers as well as officials should convey this information at its Citizen Academy workshops, community meetings, etc. The department should invite its criminal justice partners (judges, prosecutors, public defenders, etc.), political leaders and elected officials, and community leaders, and the media to participate in the kinds of simulated scenario training that officers will go through. Having to make critical, life-or-death decisions quickly and under stress affords those not in law enforcement a unique opportunity to experience the split-second decisions officers are called upon to make.
PERF says use the term “LESS-LETHAL”
All reference to the term “Non Deadly Force” should be eliminated from the directive and replaced with “Less Lethal.” Likewise in Section III, the definitions of “Less Lethal Option” and Non-Deadly Force” should be incorporated into a single “Less Lethal Force” definition. Law enforcement has come to understand the use of the terms like “Non-Lethal” and “Non-Deadly force” do not belong in directives or training as it is provides the misconception to officers and the public that its use will never result in deadly consequences. In reality, any use of force could, under specific circumstances, could be lethal.
• All references of “Electronic Control Device” or “ECD” should be replaced with Electronic Control Weapon” and “ECW.” ECWs are Less-Lethal Weapons and should not be referred to as tools or devices. Calling them other than a weapon gives a false impression to officer and the public.
The department is replacing its 15 year old Firearms Training Simulator (FATS) with new one that employs some 400 preloaded scenarios and offers the department the capability to build and enter its own scenarios using actual situations that have involved CMPD officers
The CMPD’s public information officer should receive extensive training on ECWs and specifically the X 2 TASER® so he/she can better inform the media and the public about the weapon.
STILL NO CONTRACT ALLOWING ADVERTISEMENT FOR TASER, INC.
CMPD attorney Judy Emken, Rodney Monroe, Public Affairs Captain Brian Cunningham, and others have received requests for months for the separate contract that would be required allowing CMPD to advertise for TASER, Inc. They have denied this public record with no justification.
We paid $2 Million for these TASERS under circumstances with several incorrect contracts already. We should be able to see if any outside transactions are happening for an extremely valuable commodity to TASER, INC: to say they sold a couple thousand of their brand new TASER X-2’s to the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department.
Do you think they advertised that the brand new TASER X-2’s didn’t work on arrival? Probably not. It seems the rush to manufacture a new TASER that might limit manufacturer liability in lawsuits since the “5 seconds-at-a-time limit” would be applied caused a possible delay in shipping and getting the software just right.
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