(BALTIMORE) — The Baltimore Police Department’s updated use of force policy, which emphasizes the “sanctity of life” and the need to “de-escalate,” goes into effect Friday — the first update in more than a decade and coming in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray.
This is the first time the BPD’s use of force policy has been updated since 2003, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced at a press conference on Wednesday. The updated use of force policy announcement comes during the Department of Justice’s ongoing investigation into the department’s patterns and practices.
“Some of the key points in this use of force policy include the emphasis on the sanctity of life, that’s actually in the policy now, and the need to de-escalate when possible,” said Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said at Wednesday’s press conference.
Other updates include clearer terminology and definitions, and the requirement that officers provide, “aid, including EMS or immediate hospital transport, to injured persons and those claiming to be injured,” Davis announced.
Officers are also now required to intercede and notify a supervisor if they see fellow police officers using excessive force.
Last fall Gray, 25, died in Baltimore police custody, sparking nationwide outrage and allegations of police brutality, as well as six officers being charged. Gray had allegedly asked to go to the hospital before he passed away but police officers ignored his requests.
Three of the officers have been acquitted, including one who was charged with murder.
Rawlings-Blake emphasized that the updated police policy does not in any way neglect officer safety.
“Officer safety is paramount and I’ve been assured that the safety of our officer’s is not at risk with the changes that have been made to the use of force policy, in fact our officers are in a better position as a result of these changes,” Rawlings-Blake said at the press conference.
Police Commissioner Kevin Davis reiterated the Mayor’s sentiments, adding “I’ve consistently said that we are not doing this to our police officers we are doing this for our police officers.”
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