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A Message from Chief Diekhoff on the Death of George Floyd

 

The death of George Floyd is deeply disturbing and I want to express my sympathy to Mr. Floyd’s family and community. This tragedy was absolutely unnecessary. Law enforcement officers are trained to treat all people with dignity and respect. These officers’ actions are inconsistent with the training of our profession.  

The Bloomington Police Department works continuously to build trust and understanding between our agency and the community we serve. The actions of the officers in Minneapolis are a reminder of how quickly that trust can be destroyed. All law enforcement must do a better job of holding ourselves accountable and to the highest ethical standards. 

The Bloomington Police Department instituted the recommendations from President Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Six years ago we were one of the first agencies in the State to institute body worn cameras for our officers. Those cameras come on when an officer is interacting with a member of the public, providing transparency with each interaction. Constant training is conducted throughout our department on topics like de-escalation skills, implicit bias, crisis intervention and mental health first aid. Officers receive four-and-a-half-times the State-mandated training hours. Fourteen data sets are regularly released on the City's B-Clear portal and to the Police Data Initiative as a means of transparency for the public to see what we do. 

Bloomington Police Officers work every day to serve and help our community. We hold ourselves to a high standard of professionalism and will continue to earn the trust of the people we serve.

 

BPD Policy in Regard to #8cantwait Criteria

 

In the wake of the disturbing and tragic video depicting the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minnesota, we've received many questions about our own use of force policies. Please see below for our responses to the 8cantwait.org criteria being used to evaluate police use of force policies across the nation.

 

1) BAN CHOKEHOLDS AND STRANGLEHOLDS
The Bloomington Police Department does not allow, nor train our officers, in the use of chokeholds and strangleholds.

 

2) REQUIRE DE-ESCALATION
De-escalation training is incorporated into the annual use of force training module and is a stated objective and philosophy as a way to peacefully resolve a situation. An officer’s decision of the level of force necessary to control an individual must be based on the perception of the threat and that individual’s ability to carry out the threat based on the experience and training of the officer. An additional factor is the officer’s knowledge of his or her own physical ability to manage the threat presented. Officers are required to respond only with the level of force which is reasonably necessary to control the situation. Officers must keep in mind that resistance can escalate and de-escalate, and an officer’s response must be objectively reasonable and appropriate for the fluidity of the situation.

 

3) REQUIRE WARNING BEFORE SHOOTING
BPD policy requires that, “Officers shall give a verbal warning before using deadly force whenever it is reasonably feasible to do so”.

 

4) EXHAUST ALL ALTERNATIVES BEFORE SHOOTING
Our Use of Force General Order requires that officers respond only with that force which is necessary to control the situation. Under Indiana statute, an officer is justified in using lethal force if the officer reasonably believes that the force is necessary to prevent serious bodily injury or death to themselves or another person. In most instances, the need for lethal force occurs extremely quickly and the officer’s decision to use lethal force must be made in a split-second. Every incident that requires use of force by an officer is unique and therefore it is the responsibility of the officer to respond to each threat with the appropriate level of force and there can be no “blanket” policy that requires various steps to be taken before lethal force may be used.

 

5) DUTY TO INTERVENE
Officers are required by Department Rules and Regulations to immediately report to their supervisor all information they have regarding persons suspected to be involved in or connected to criminal activity and/or violations of Department General Orders. Further, per Department Rules and Regulations, officers have the authority to issue direct commands to other officers when necessary in periods of emergencies or when they observe a breach of discipline.

 

6) BAN SHOOTING AT MOVING VEHICLES
Officers may only discharge a firearm at or from a moving vehicle when in defense of human life, including their own. They may also discharge their firearm in defense of any person in immediate danger of serious bodily injury, including the officer themselves. However, officers are required to consider the risks to the public, such as the risk of losing control of a vehicle, ricochet bullets, and the inherent difficulty of making accurate shots in these situations.

 

7) ESTABLISH USE OF FORCE CONTINUUM
The Bloomington Police Department has a Use of Force Framework (continuum) that is incorporated into our Use of Force General Order. The framework is circular in design and requires the officer to continuously assess the situation and act in a reasonable manner to ensure officer and public safety. Officers are required to respond only with the level of force which is reasonably necessary to control the situation.

 

8) REQUIRE ALL FORCE BE REPORTED
All uses of force must be reported. This is a requirement of our General Order. Any officer that uses any type of force, regardless of whether or not said use of force results in an injury to the person that was the recipient of said force, shall note the use of force in a case report. Further, all uses of force must be reported in Guardian Tracking, which is computer software utilized by the Department to track all uses of force and requires that each use of force incident be reviewed by at least two supervisors and the Department’s Training Coordinator. If the use of force results in injury to a person, then the reviewing supervisors are required to review the officer’s body worn camera footage to ensure that the use of force and amount of force used was appropriate for the situation.

 

BPD FAQs

 

The following are shared in response to frequent questions about the operations and standards of the Bloomington Police Department (BPD). As a department we are committed to serving and protecting our community with accountability, equity, and transparency. The department reports its activities through numerous means--on fourteen datasets on the City’s data portal B-Clear, to the Police Data Initiative, to the Board of Public Safety (the civilian review board), in compliance with requirements of our ongoing accreditation by the Commission on the Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), in an annual public Report on Public Safety provided in February, and in regular accountability to the Mayor.  

 

BPD in its commitment to transparency, accountability and equity in its service, also acknowledges that racism and other forms of discrimination are deep-seated forces across the country, from which Bloomington and BPD are not exempt. The ongoing, rigorous training the BPD requires of its officers and the multiple practices, protocols, policies, and structures described in the following responses are meant to minimize any inappropriate use of force and maximize the positive and collaborative relationship among and between the people of our department and the people of the community we serve. Those commitments and those efforts are always worthy of review and question, and we are committed to continuing to improve our service and our community so that all feel safe and included, and treated with justice and respect.

 

What policies and training does the Bloomington Police Department implement to reduce and avoid aggressive or violent police action? 

 

The BPD invests deeply in training. On an annual basis, our officers spend four-and-a-half times more hours in training than is required by the State of Indiana. This training includes implicit bias, de-escalation, crisis intervention for mental health situations, and much more.  We foster transparency and accountability about the actions we take in numerous ways. Six years ago we were one of the first agencies in the State to institute body-worn cameras for our officers. These cameras are activated any time an officer is interacting with a member of the public, providing transparency with each interaction.    Our Department regularly releases fourteen data sets on the City’s B-Clear portal and to the Police Data Initiative as a means of transparency for the public to see what we do. 

 

How does the BPD stay current with best practices of contemporary police work?

 

In 2016, the Bloomington Police Department, in conjunction with the City’s Board of Public Safety (a civilian oversight board) conducted an extensive review and implementation of President Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing, designed to promote effective crime reduction while building public trust (The BPD has instituted all but one of the dozens of recommendations from that report, choosing not to implement only the recommendation for tasers). Additionally, the Department attained accreditation in July of 2018 through the Commission on the Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). CALEA required the BPD to complete a total review and update of all Department policies and procedures in order to meet and incorporate 179 current best practices standards, with ongoing accreditation requiring regular reporting of adherence to these standards. Only 5% of the approximately 18,000 police agencies nationwide are accredited through CALEA. 

 

How does the BPD forge relationships with the community it serves?

 

Most of the approximately 54,000 calls for service that BPD responds to annually are requests for services rather than a response to an emergency. Therefore the City has invested in staffing the department with personnel trained to deliver those services, addressing basic needs and conflicts as a way of preempting criminal activity.  The BPD developed the Downtown Resource Officer (DRO) program in 2014 as a specialty unit to deal with the unique circumstances presented by the population of those experiencing homelessness. We established liaisons to support our LGBTQ+ community and provide a safe and confidential contact for reporting instances of victimization. Since 2019, we employ a full-time Police Social Worker and believe we are the first agency in Indiana to do so. Our social worker assists our DROs in their mission related to the population of those experiencing homelessness and deals with circumstances where a social worker’s skill set would help provide services for those in need. This is being done in an effort to address the root causes of police involvement with this population and try to break that cycle.  Two Neighborhood Resource Specialists were added to BPD in 2019 as non-sworn staff dedicated to providing services such as welfare checks and neighborhood dispute resolution. They also serve as a liaison between the neighborhoods of Bloomington and the police department. 

We engage with the community by hosting programs and events such as Teen Police Academy, National Night Out, Citizens Police Academy, Public Safety Cadets, Coffee with a Cop, and other similar events.  Our partnerships with and support to various social service agencies such as Middle Way House, Shalom Community Center and others provide opportunities to engage with and provide services to vulnerable populations in ways to build trust.

 

What limitations are placed on the use of lethal force?

 

Our Use of Force General Order requires that officers respond only with that force which is necessary to control the situation. By state law, an officer is allowed to use lethal force only if the officer reasonably believes that the force is necessary to prevent serious bodily injury or death to themselves or another person.

Under the Department’s General Orders, all uses of any type of force must be reported in a case report and via Guardian Tracking, tracking software used by the Department. Every use of force incident is reviewed by at least two supervisors and the Department’s Training Coordinator. If the use of force results in injury to a person, then the reviewing supervisors are required to review the officer’s body-worn camera footage to ensure that the use of force and amount of force used was appropriate for the situation. 

In addition, our Department does not train our officers in or allow the use of chokeholds or strangleholds. 

 

Do you have a use of force continuum?

 

Yes, the Department has a Use of Force Framework that is incorporated into our Use of Force General Order. The framework is circular in design and requires the officer to continuously assess the situation and act in a reasonable manner to ensure officer and public safety.

 

How do officers deal with use of excessive force they believe they have witnessed by another officer?

 

Officers are required to immediately report to their supervisor all information they have regarding persons suspected to be involved in or connected to criminal activity and/or violations of Department General Orders, which includes reporting the use of excessive force by another officer. Further, per Department Rules and Regulations, officers have the authority to issue direct commands to other officers when necessary in periods of emergencies or when they observe a breach of discipline. We are currently in the process of updating our Use of Force General Order with wording that specifically requires intervention by an officer who witnesses use of excessive force.

 

In 2019, how many use of force complaints did the Department receive ?

 

BPD responded to 54,112 calls for service in 2019 and received zero use of force complaints from the public. Many of the calls for service required a response by multiple officers. Only 255 or 0.5% of calls for service required any use of force, which was a decrease from 2018. 

 

How are officers updated about newer life-saving policies?

 

On top of all State-mandated topics, officers undergo training on updates to Department General Orders or procedures, as well as life-saving practices such as Naloxone usage, CPR, tourniquet application, and AED usage. Officers also receive annual training in topics such as firearm usage, physical tactics and use of force, de-escalation, police vehicle operation, mental illness, addiction and disabilities, domestic violence, the Department Code of Ethics, and legal updates to State statutes. 

 

How are your departmental values, policies and procedures imparted to new officers joining the department?

 

Our culture encourages the integration of departmental values, policies and procedures for all officers.  Newly appointed and lateral transfer officers that are new to the Department are required to complete an extensive Field Training Program. New officers are trained by specifically designated officers who have shown that they have a complete understanding of Department General Orders, policies and procedures. New officers are evaluated on their performance daily and are required to meet stringent standards before they can graduate from the Field Training Program and be allowed to engage in solo patrol. The normal length of time that newly appointed officers are in the Field Training Program is approximately 16 work weeks, or just shy of 100 work days. 

 

How do you ensure that your officers follow your policies? 

 

Every member of the Department is required to understand and abide by all Department General Orders, Rules and Regulations, and Board of Public Safety Standards. Violations result in discipline issued by the Chief or the Board of Public Safety. When inappropriate behavior by an officer on any level comes to our attention it is dealt with consistent with policy and through a progressive discipline model that may also include remedial training, if appropriate under the circumstances. When an incident is so egregious that seeking termination is the most appropriate and necessary disposition, we will and have terminated employees without hesitation.  Our expectations for our personnel are that all members of the community are to be treated with respect and dignity. This expectation is reflected in our Rules and Regulations and in the Mission Statement developed for our Department. 

 

BPD’s Mission Statement is as follows:

 

The mission of the Bloomington Police Department is to safeguard life and property while respecting diversity, encouraging civility, solving problems, and maintaining a high standard of individual integrity and professionalism. 

 

How does your department evaluate and improve the decision-making of your field officers for critical incidents?

 

We incorporate critical thinking and decision-making skills into firearms training, use of force training, and training for the Department’s specialty units such as the Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) and Civil Disturbance Unit (CDU). 

 

What are your criteria for an officer to be considered overly aggressive? 

 

“Aggressive” behavior would typically be under “use of force” events and these are monitored via an Early Warning System where a “red flag” comes to the attention of a supervisor if an officer is mentioned in a predetermined number of Use of Force forms that exceeds the threshold set by the Department. A secondary review is then conducted in their totality to determine if they were appropriate or if a negative pattern is present. Once reviewed, a determination can be made about discipline or additional training for the officer, if appropriate.

 

How would an officer be prosecuted if he/she violated the law?

 

Prosecution for any alleged violation of Indiana law is at the sole discretion of the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office and is not a function of the Police Department. Officer discipline, which may be issued for many reasons short of a criminal violation, is governed by state law and is under the authority of the Chief of Police and the Board of Public Safety.

 

Has BPD participated in citizen panels to discuss incidents involving the Police?

 

BPD has participated in and supported many panels over the years for incidents related to police events that have gained national attention and other events that have had a local impact. Constructive dialogue can be very productive when both sides attempt to have a better understanding of the issue at hand.

 

How many police officers are in BPD, and what are the demographics of the department?

 

BPD is authorized and funded to employ 105 sworn officers. Of our current 95 sworn officers, 11 are female and 8 are minorities. The two Neighborhood Resource Specialists and one Social Worker are females. 

 

How does your department handle community complaints of excessive force by individual officers?

 

There are several ways for someone to file a complaint on an officer. Online or in-person complaints can be filed at the Police Department, the Mayor's office or the City Legal Department. There is also a kiosk in the lobby of City Hall and the Police Department for those without computer access that would prefer to file a complaint electronically. Complaints can also be filed with the Board of Public Safety. Those complaints are investigated and the results are presented to the Board of Public Safety at monthly meetings.