Mayor Sharon Weston Broome, the newly elected mayor-president of East Baton Rouge Parish, held a press conference today at city hall to announce changes in the use of force polices for BRPD. These are the first changes to polices since the fatal police shooting of 37 year old Alton Sterling by two BRPD officers in July of 2016.
Mayor Broome as a candidate promised to make changes in the police department and began working on her first day in office to do so — by meeting with community leaders and members of law enforcement about how to make changes in the department.
The use of force changes made are as follows:
- Officers are required to give a verbal warning, before using deadly force, except where there are exigent 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 reinforcements, calling in specialized units or employing other strategies.
- Officers will not employ chokeholds or strangleholds, except in emergency circumstances where it is immediately necessary to use deadly force and the authorized weapons are inoperable, inaccessible or otherwise not available.
- Officers are prohibited from discharging a firearm at a moving vehicle unless the vehicle or the persons within the vehicle 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 when they observe the use of excessive force by another officer.
Mayor Broome called the group she assembled, the Mayor’s Advisory Council on Law Enforcement and Community Service and Protection their recommendations in policy changes go in effect immediately within the Baton Rouge Police Department. These policies align with national best practices surrounding “use of force.” Mayor Broome said, “We believe that the implementation of these policy changes will enhance existing BRPD policies and compliment academy and in-service training.”
Gary Chambers, Publisher of The Rouge Collection and a member of the group assembled by Broome said, “This is a positive first step in changing the relationship between the police and the communities they serve. It is necessary to have policies that will help increase accountability. I salute Mayor Broome for having the courage to be proactive as a leader and not reactive.”
Together Baton Rouge released a statement on the policy changes which said in part, “With the changes announced today, Baton Rouge’s use of force policy goes from being among the weakest 30% of cities in the nation to being among the strongest 7%, in terms of alignment with national best practices.
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.”
The members of the Mayor’s Advisory Council on Law Enforcement and Community Service and Protection are, Fr. Rick Andrus, Rev. Robin McCullough-Bade, Broderick Bagert, Attorney Alfreda Tillman Bester, Constable Reginald Brown, Pastor Renee’ Brown, Gary Chambers, Councilman Lamont Cole, Kelvin A. Cryer, Chief Carl Dabadie, Mark Dumaine, Cleve Dunn, Jr., Col. Mike Edmonson, Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, Casey Hicks, Pastor Donald Hunter, Josh Howard, Mary Jane Marcantel, E.J. Milton, Michael A.V. Mitchell, Tonja Myles, Rev. Reginald Pitcher, Attorney Joyce Plummer, Arthur “Silky Slim” Reed, Dr. Dereck Rovaris, Michael W. Victorian, Pastor Charles Wallace, Pastor Lee T. Wesley, and Dr. Katara Williams.