After Freddie Gray, Baltimore police take a tentative step away from lethal force

A new use-of-force policy from the Baltimore Police Department requires its officers to de-escalate violent situations, to report colleagues who use inappropriate force, and to respect the "sanctity of life."

The policy has the endorsement of the NAACP, but the ACLU has pointed out some serious structural problems — massive loopholes that the Baltimore PD shows no sign of fixing.

But Rocah [from the ACLU] said the new policy doesn't require officers who use deadly force to fill out a form, despite a recently passed state law requiring such action.

"That's critically important, and it's hugely problematic that that documentation doesn't exist," he said.

The policy requires officers to intervene to "prevent the use of excessive force by another member" of the department, and to immediately alert a supervisor to the incident. An officer who does not intervene to stop another's excessive force may be subject to disciplinary action.

But Rocah said it does not require officers to intervene to stop lesser force.

It also doesn't tell supervisors to ask officers who use force about that use of force, and doesn't restrict the use of Tasers and pepper-spray as much as it should, Rocah said. It also falls short or is not clear on a range of other points, he said.

The revised policy does require officers to call for a medic if an individual asks for or shows signs of needing one.

Baltimore Police institute new 'use of force' policy for officers as Justice Department report looms
[Kevin Rector/Baltimore Sun]

(Image: FreddieGrayPrecinctProtest, Veggies, CC-BY-SA)