Use of Force / Pursuits - Policies and Practices
The Tallahassee Police Department is committed to enhancing the quality of life in our community, and working in partnership with the community to enforce the law, preserve the peace, reduce the fear of crime while maintaining the highest level of professional standards. We recognize that there may be times when the use/application of force may be necessary in order to take a suspect into custody. However, TPD officers are trained in the use of a continuum of force and are expected to use that force reasonable necessary to effectively bring a suspect/incident under control, while protecting the life of the officer and/or others.
The following is an explanation of TPD's Use of Force policy which is a guide to selecting effective, reasonable and legal force options during verbal or physical encounters.
Justifiable use of force is defined in Florida Statutes 776.05
Use of force policy statement – General Order 60
"Officers of the Tallahassee Police Department, in the course of performing their duties, will use only the amount of force necessary to overcome and control the actions of resistive suspects."
Department policies are reviewed as part of accreditation assessment to ensure compliance with national and state standards.
Continuum of Force
Established and approved by the Florida Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission to provide guideline to law enforcement agencies.
Use of Force/Levels of Resistance Guidelines Chart
Red squares indicate suggested, acceptable, beginning response levels. Any unacceptable response requires explanation. Definitions for levels of resistance and response are listed following the chart below.
Levels of Resistance - Suspect
- Level 1 - Presence
- Level 2 - Verbal Resistance
- Level 3 - Passive Physical Resistance
- Level 4 - Active Physical Resistance (pulling away/pushing)
- Level 5 - Aggressive Physical Resistance (officer feels attack may injure but not cause death or serious injury)
- Level 6 - Aggravated Physical Resistance (officer feels attack may cause death or serious injury)
Levels of Response - Officer
- Level 1 - Officer Presence
- Level 2 - Verbal Direction and Commands
- Level 3 - Physical Control (pain compliance, take down, OC spray)
- Level 4 - Intermediate Weapons (baton, asp, Taser)
- Level 5 - Incapacitating Control (strike to major nerve area)
- Level 6 - Deadly Force (firearm, strikes with or without weapon to spine, throat, eyes, or groin)
Use of Force Report
A "Use of Force Report" must be filed under these circumstances
- Action taken that results in, or is alleged to have resulted in injury or death.
- Force applied using a non-lethal weapon (includes K-9 bite).
- Weaponless force applied to the extent it is likely to cause injury, claim of injury, or allegation of excessive force.
- Discharge of firearm or less-lethal firearm.
- Any confrontation with citizen/suspect where firearm is deployed for use.
- Force is used in less than 1% of all calls for service.
Weapons policy statement – General Order 61
"Officers of the Tallahassee Police Department shall use only Department issued or Department approved weapons in the performance of their duties. Officers shall participate in training and maintain qualification with their assigned weapons. Departmentally issued weapons shall only be used in the performance of their official duties."
- Impact weapons and chemical weapons biannually
- Firearms biannually
Force Resulting in Serious Injury or Death
Policy statement – General Order 63
"When the use of force or other action by an officer results in death or serious injury, Department staff will: conduct a thorough investigation, preserve the physical and emotional well-being of the officer(s) directly involved, and make every effort to protect human life."
Investigation has two phases
- Criminal – conducted by TPD Homicide/Assault investigators
- Administrative – conducted by TPD Internal Affairs investigators
- City Attorney's Office
- Office of the State Attorney
- Leon County Grand Jury
Vehicle pursuit policy statement – General Order 27
"Officers of the Tallahassee Police Department may conduct vehicle pursuits based upon the reasonable belief that the driver or occupant of the pursued vehicle has committed a felony involving violence or the threat of violence to the officer or another person. Pursuits shall be conducted with due consideration of the safety of the public, the risk to the officers involved, and the occupants of the fleeing vehicle."
Pursuit Initiation Factors
- Officer's experience
- Type/condition of officer's vehicle
- Road/weather conditions
- Pedestrian/vehicle traffic
- Visibility and lighting
- Likelihood of later arrest
- Officer's familiarity with area
- Time of day
Authorized forcible stop techniques
- Road block– used only when deadly force situation exists
- Ramming – used only when deadly force situation exists
- Precision Intervention Technique (PIT)
- Tire deflation
- Initiating officer may terminate at any point.
- Sworn field supervisor or higher authority may terminate pursuit