Yes, the South Orange Police Department has recently revised its Use of Force policy, which in addition to being compliant with the current Attorney General’s Guideline on Use of Force, has explicitly stated the following:
- Directs officers that their duty to intervene requires them to attempt to prevent unauthorized force they reasonably believe another officer may perform as well as report unauthorized force of which they have knowledge;
- Added information on Enhanced Mechanical Force and clarified that SOPD officers are not authorized, trained, or equipped to use this force option;
- Directs officers to attempt to de-escalate encounters whenever feasible;
- Defines Chokeholds/Neck/Carotid restraints and explicitly states that they are Deadly Force that is not authorized except under very limited circumstances in which it is necessary to address an imminent threat to life;
- Directs officers to consider an individual’s mental, physical, or other incapacities when they fail to comply and consider other means to resolve situations without the use of force
- Explicitly states that officers have a duty to provide prompt medical care;
- Directs officers to ensure the breathing of subjects under their control is not obstructed;
- Directs officers to not sit, kneel, or stand on a person’s chest or back;
- Directs officers to not use force on a person that is in restraints unless such force is objectively reasonable and necessary to prevent escape, imminent injury, or property damage;
- Directs supervisors to review all available information and evidence prior to approving a Use of Force report;
- Clarifies and explicitly states the conditions under which notifications to the County Prosecutor are required;
- Explicitly states that all instances in which force is used by a South Orange Police Officer shall undergo review by Internal Affairs.
The Attorney General has stated his intention to publish a comprehensive, state-wide revision to the Use of Force policy by the end of 2020; however, we believe that the mission of the South Orange Police Department required us to revise our policy as soon as it was feasible. These revisions were made to provide all those authorized to use force with as much clear, direct, and explicit guidance as possible on their expectations and responsibilities under our current operating parameters.
Additionally, per long-standing state law, and unlike many other states, the New Jersey Attorney General is the chief law enforcement officer in the state and has the responsibility and broad authority to secure the benefits of a uniform and efficient enforcement of the criminal law and administration of the criminal justice system. As such the Attorney General routinely issues statewide policy documents known as “law enforcement directives,” which require compliance and are binding on all law enforcement agencies and all 36,000 state, county, and local law enforcement officers.
The Attorney General then delegates the authority of the Office to the County Prosecutors, who are the chief law enforcement officers in each of New Jersey’s 21 counties. The Essex County Prosecutor is responsible for direction, control, and oversight of all law enforcement agencies in Essex County. The South Orange Police Department is accountable to the County Prosecutor for compliance with the Attorney General’s Directives as well as any subsequent orders from the County Prosecutor’s Office.
For additional information from the Attorney General’s Excellence in Policing Initiative, please visit: https://www.nj.gov/oag/excellence/
For additional information on the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, please visit: http://www.njecpo.org/