Here at the Cedar Park Police Department, we have heard renewed concerns that have surfaced about how policing in America should be. We wanted to take a moment to provide additional information on the questions we're receiving regarding training, including topics such as implicit bias, crisis intervention and de-escalation, and use of force.
Principles and Practices:
We have received many inquiries from the Cedar Park community about our police department’s policies and how they may or may not meet some of the guidelines being advocated for by police reform organizations. We’ve re-examined our policies and feel that most, if not all, directly align with the spirit of what is being asked for in the recommendations, but there are nuances in verbiage. For example, this is how our policies compare to the 8cantwait.org website’s recommendations:
- Ban chokeholds and strangleholds – These techniques are not permitted in our policies.
- Require de-escalation – De-escalation is interwoven into the departments operations and is included in the department’s policies. De-escalation techniques are included in various professional training topics that are required biennially to all sworn personnel. If safe under the totality of circumstances, and time permits, officers shall attempt the use of de-escalation tactics in order to reduce the need for force.
- Require warning before shooting – In situations of a person fleeing whom an officer reasonably believes will cause death or serious injury if not immediately apprehended, the officer, where feasible, will identify themselves and warn before deadly force may be used.
- Duty to intervene and stop excessive force by other officers – Officers have a duty to prevent and stop illegal and inappropriate force used by other officers, and have a duty to report illegal and inappropriate force used by other officers.
- Ban shooting at moving vehicles – While our policy does not ban shooting at moving vehicles, it is only allowed when the driver poses a deadly threat.
- Require use-of-force continuum –As a situation changes, officers must reevaluate the circumstances and continue to respond reasonably. Over the course of an encounter, the circumstances and threats an officer faces may change. Consistent with training and the de-escalation processes, while using force, officers must continually assess the effectiveness, reasonableness, and necessity of their actions.
- Require comprehensive reporting each time an officer uses force– All law enforcement actions are documented, to include use of force. The department provides data regarding all officer-involved shootings and incidents involving use of force. Supervisors review videos every 90 days and annually, the Cedar Park Police Department submits a use-of-force report to the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), which represents best practices in law enforcement.
For these reasons, we feel our policies are already very close to the recommendations being asked for. Your police department recognizes and respects the value of all human life and dignity without prejudice to anyone. Vesting officers with the authority to use reasonable force and to protect the public welfare requires monitoring, evaluation and a careful balancing of all interests.
In that spirit, our leadership will discuss potential changes in verbiage to more closely align with the recommended practices.
In the meantime, if you would like more specifics on our policy, you can file an Open Records Request with the department.
We are more than happy to have further dialog on this, and we will continue to work to move forward with intention with our community.
A message from Chief Mike Harmon:
On behalf of the staff of the Cedar Park Police Department, I condemn the actions taken by law enforcement in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The images of George Floyd’s death are both appalling and heartbreaking. This inexplicable incident has angered the policing profession and goes against the tremendous service many peace officers across the nation perform each and every day.
At the Cedar Park Police Department, we will continue to focus on our commitment to the values, ethical standards, and priorities of our City, our Department and our community.
Our officers strive to be grounded by ethics; to hold ourselves accountable for how we treat the public. We recognize our responsibility to consistently take the steps necessary to ensure something like this does not happen here.
It is the policy of this Department that authorized personnel shall actively enforce local, state, and federal laws in a responsible and professional manner, without regard to race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, age, gender, gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, immigration status, disability, housing status, occupation, cultural group, language fluency, or any other identifiable group.
The Cedar Park Police Department strictly prohibits and will not tolerate the use of biased policing in traffic contacts, field contacts, asset seizure, forfeiture efforts, or other applications of police authority.
As part of this department’s commitment to unbiased policing, initial and annual training is provided to appropriate members of the department on bias neutralization, implicit bias, case studies and/or other relevant topics. We do not take for granted the support we have from our community and we recognize the tremendous responsibility, which comes with the authority bestowed upon us.
We follow the recommendations of both the state and national accrediting bodies (Texas Police Chief’s Best Practices Recognition Program, and the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies), which represent best practices in law enforcement. These standards are updated periodically to make sure we are keeping pace with emerging trends, best practices, and new developments within our culture and society at large.
I want to reassure the Cedar Park community that we at the Cedar Park Police Department will continue to work hard to earn your trust through our actions. Additionally, I reaffirm our commitment to stand beside each of you as we navigate the challenges of our times with the reassuring knowledge that we are stronger together. To protect and serve applies to all. We, as a profession, must honor that. We must be better. We must never stop trying to be better and we must continue to build trust and dialogue with the communities we serve.