Monroe police chief details departments use-of-force policies

Monroe City Building

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Monroe City Building

Monroe’s police chief recently gave a presentation to the city council on the department’s practices in use of force, hiring practices and holding officers accountable.

“In light of the societal issues that have gripped our nation, this is a good time to reflect on what your police department has done over the past couple of years, answer questions that the public may have, and look ahead to the future of policing as it may impact the city of Monroe,” Buchanan said.

Chief Bob Buchanan said the department’s “mindset” is focused on Community Oriented Policing by building a culture of cooperation and interaction in the community. The conversation came in the wake of protests following the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis.

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During his presentation, Buchanan spoke about the hiring practices with a goal to have the police department reflect those who visit, work and live in Monroe. He said the multi-phased hiring process include a written test, a structured panel interview, a background investigation, truth verification, an additional interview and a psychological assessment.

Monroe police work under a 35-chapter policies and regulations manual with 300 standards. In 2016, the department began the accreditation process through the national Commission on Accredited Law Enforcement Agencies in which the city’s standards matched. In addition, the department was awarded CALEA’s Advanced Law Enforcement Accreditation acknowledging compliance with all 304 mandatory standards including those for use of force, prohibitions and training in 2018.

Buchanan said the department was also compliant with 58 of 66 non-mandatory standards. In addition, Monroe was also in compliance with the 23 Ohio Collaborative standards over eight topics including body cameras, pursuits, hiring and use of force. He said the department is continuously evaluating its policies, procedures and training and focuses on being up to date in the latest law enforcement trends.

Monroe police were among the first Butler County departments to use body cameras in 2017, in addition to cruiser cameras, he said. The department also revised its vehicle pursuit policy to limit pursuits to felonies or crimes of violence and its use of force policy to include requiring any display of a firearm or Taser be reported and reviewed.

The use of force policy, in part, says “Officers shall use only that amount of force that reasonably appears necessary given the facts and circumstances perceived by the officer at the time of the event to accomplish a legitimate law enforcement purpose.”

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Buchanan said officers may use deadly force to protect themselves or others from what they reasonably believe would be an imminent threat of death or serious physical harm. The department says a verbal warning should precede the use of deadly force.

Officers have a duty to intercede if they observe another officer using excessive force that is clearly beyond that is reasonable under the circumstances as well as to report the incident to a supervisor, Buchanan said.

Buchanan said officers receive annual training on ethics and professionalism, traffic stops and non-biased based policing, and they are tested annually on use-of-force policy and procedures. In addition all officers go through a use of force and de-escalation training scenarios. Officers are trained in unarmed self-defense at least annually, he said.

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He said citizen complaints are investigated by a supervisor. Officers’ performance are documented and reflected on their annual evaluation. There is also an “early warning system” that is triggered for various performance issues. Much of that information can be found on the police website.

“… I know of no one who looked at the actions of the Minneapolis Police Officer and could say anything other than it is horrible, and in my opinion this was a terrible crime,” Buchanan said.

He said the department will not tolerate criminal activity … period. Buchanan said officers will continue to work with its community partners, have honest discussions, listen, continue to educate while at the same time continue to focus on learning themselves.

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