Effective Date: February 17, 2009
Last Reviewed: February 17, 2009


It is the purpose of this policy to provide guidelines for the investigation of officer-involved use of deadly force incidents.

Although, thankfully, very few officers become involved in deadly force situations, all officers should have an understanding of steps that must be taken following such an event and the impact it will have on those officers involved. The initial response of the involved officers and the steps taken thereafter by first responders, supervisory and investigative personnel may be critical in conducting an accurate and complete investigation.

The reputation and career of involved officers and the agency’s reputation depend upon a full and accurate investigation to determine the circumstances that precipitated the event and the manner in which it unfolded. The critical nature of these investigations is also underscored by the frequency with which these incidents result in civil litigation. Failure to take appropriate measures can lead to the loss of indispensable evidence, inaccurate investigative findings, inappropriate assignment of responsibility or culpability for wrongdoing, and even the filing of criminal charges against officers who acted responsibly and lawfully.

It is the policy of this department to investigate officer-involved deadly force incidents with the utmost thoroughness, professionalism and impartiality to determine if an officer’s actions conform to the law and this agency’s policy on use of force.

On-Scene Responsibilities

For officers involved in a deadly force situation, there are four general areas of concern that should be addressed after the initial confrontation has been quelled:

• The welfare of officers, innocents, and others at the scene;

• The apprehension of suspects;

• The preservation of evidence; and

• The identification of witnesses.

• The safety and well-being of the officer(s) and any innocent bystanders is the first priority.

Actions Immediately Following an Officer Involved Deadly Force Incident

• Eliminate Hostile Threats: Initially, the officer should ensure that the threat from the suspect has been terminated.

• This includes but is not limited to handcuffing or otherwise securing the suspect.

• If not handcuffed or otherwise secured during the application of emergency first aid, an armed officer must be present at all times and tasked with overseeing the security of the suspect and safety of emergency service providers.

• One should never assume that because a suspect has been shot or otherwise incapacitated that he or she is unable to take aggressive action.

• Secure and separate suspects.

• Conduct a protective sweep of the scene.

• Remove the suspect and others from the immediate crime scene;

• If the suspect cannot be immediately removed and firearms or other weapons are in the vicinity of the suspect, they should be collected and secured.

• Obtain Additional Assistance: Request a supervisor, additional back-up, and any other assistance required immediately.

• Provide for Medical Attention to the Injured

• If injured, administer emergency first aid to one’s self first, if possible.

• Administer basic first aid to suspects and others, as necessary, pending arrival of emergency medical assistance.

• Summon medical assistance.

• Relay information on fleeing suspects to the dispatch center and other field units and work with them to establish a containment area or locate and arrest suspects.

• Assess the Situation: Take note of the time, survey the entire area for relevant facts, individuals who are present and who departed the scene, witnesses, potential suspects and suspect vehicles.

• Firearms: Holster any involved handguns or secure them in place as evidence. Secure any long guns in the prescribed manner or in place as evidence. Do not open, reload, remove shell casings or in any other manner tamper with involved firearms.

• Secure the scene, establish a crime scene perimeter and limit access to authorized persons necessary to investigate the shooting and assist the injured.

• Protect evidence from loss, destruction or damage that is likely to occur. Ensure that evidentiary items are not moved or, if moved, note the original location and position of persons, weapons, and other relevant objects and evidence.

• Record the names, addresses and phone numbers of all witnesses and other persons present at the shooting scene and request that they remain on hand in order to make a brief statement whether or not they say they saw the incident.

Supervisory Responsibilities at the Scene

Officer-in-Charge

• The first supervisor to arrive at the scene of an officer-involved deadly force incident will normally be designated as the officer-in-charge (OIC) until such time as he/she is relieved from this responsibility by an investigator or other appropriate senior officer.

• A superior officer shall be notified and shall assume overall command of the incident. This duty may be assumed by the Chief of Police.

• An investigation supervisor shall respond to supervise the agency’s investigative efforts and coordinate with outside investigative entities (District Attorney’s Office, Medical Examiner, etc.).

• A supervisor, if available, shall coordinate patrol support of the investigation.

Immediate Actions

• Ensure that the scene is safe and secure from other hostile persons.

• Determine the condition of officers and others at the scene.

• Ensure that emergency medical care has been summoned if necessary and emergency first aid is being provided if needed in the interim.

• Ensure that the crime scene has been protected and, to the degree possible, that it is kept intact and undisturbed until criminal investigators arrive.

• Ensure that staffing is adequate to handle the incident and conduct the investigation. The supervisor may consider calling in off duty personnel or mutual aid, including additional dispatchers.

• Ensure that those issues ordinarily addressed by patrol officers, if such officers at the scene were not able to do so, have been addressed.

• Broadcast lookouts for suspects;

• Request backup and related support services;

• Identify persons who may have been at or within close proximity to the scene of the incident, as well as identify witnesses and request their cooperation.

NOTIFICATIONS

The on-scene supervisor shall ensure that notifications are made as appropriate:

• Shift Commander or Officer-in-Charge

• Easton Police Department

• Chief of Police

• The District Attorney or his/her representative shall have the authority to direct and control the criminal investigation of a death

• State Police

• Legal advisor, if applicable.

• Officer(s) Family: If a police officer has been shot or severely injured, the officer’s family shall be notified.

Care of Involved Officers

• Officer Injuries

• If an officer has been shot or severely injured, ensure that another officer accompanies the injured officer to the hospital and remains with the officer until relieved.

• The accompanying officer shall be responsible for ensuring that the clothing and other personal effects of the injured officer are recovered and turned over to the police department as evidence.

• Officers not Injured Officer(s) should be moved away from the immediate shooting scene and placed in the company of a fellow officer.

Incident Command

• Establish a command post if necessary.

• Appoint command Post Staff.

• Designate a recorder to make a chronological record of activities at the scene, to include:

• persons present,

• actions taken by police personnel; and

• the identity of any personnel who entered the incident/crime scene, to include emergency medical and fire

Preliminary Investigation

• Ensure that the incident scene has been secured and the size of the secure area is adequate for the investigation. Make necessary adjustments.

• Begin a preliminary investigation.

• Create a preliminary diagram of the scene and photograph it if a camera is available.

• Note the location of and ammunition casings.

• Locate the suspect’s weapon(s), ammunition and expended cartridges.

• Do not disturb weapons, ammunition, or the crime scene pending the arrival of investigators.

• Collect information about the suspect, including name, physical description, domicile and other pertinent information.

• Locate and secure as evidence any clothing that may have been removed from the suspect by emergency medical personnel or others.

• Determine the original position of the officer(s) and the suspect at time of shooting.

Chief of Police

• If the Chief of Police is not the officer-in-charge of the incident scene, the Chief should be briefed on the incident. The briefing should include:

• Status of police employees;

• Status of suspect(s);

• Status of any involved innocent parties;

• Any arrests;

• Circumstances surrounding the incident; and

• Any other pertinent information.

• The officer-in-charge of the incident scene shall provide the Chief of Police with periodic updates and keep the chief apprised of all developments.

Media

The Chief should coordinate with the other involved investigative agencies regarding a press release or media statement

Investigation Supervisor’s Responsibilities

The investigation Supervisor shall be responsible for:

• If other than the Chief, the designee is responsible for keeping the Chief of Police apprised of all developments and providing period updates, particularly during the early stages of the investigation;

• Ensuring that the investigation is conducted in a careful and methodical manner

Involved Employees

Although the investigation of police involved deadly force incident is essential, for the employees directly involved, the investigation can be one of the more stress-provoking activities following such an incident.

Officers involved in these situations are acutely aware of how they are perceived, and the manner in which such investigations are conducted can heighten or diminish feelings of alienation and isolation.

Complete and professional investigation can be conducted while also showing consideration for an employee’s emotional well-being.

It is not necessary to subject an officer to insensitive, non-supportive, or impersonal treatment.

Police Weapons

• Secure officers firearms or other weapons if the use of such a weapon was involved.

• Locate and secure loose weapons;

• Collect involved officers’ firearms and replace them with other firearms if feasible. Be sure to record the serial number of each firearm collected and the name of the officer from whom the firearm was collected; or

• Order officers to secure firearms in their holsters and not to remove them unless :

• Instructed to do so by a supervisor;

• Instructed by an investigator tasked with inspecting the firearms; or

• If needed for another deadly force situation.

Conduct an inspection of firearms only if it is not feasible to wait for the arrival of a ballistics investigator. In such a case a supervisor and an armorer, firearms instructor, or other designated person should conduct the inspection jointly and record:

• The serial number, make, model and caliber of each firearm;

• The officer having possession of the firearm;

• The officer who had possession of the firearm during the incident;

• The firearm status including:

• Whether the firearm is cocked or un-cocked;

• The position of any safety (on, off, burst, full-auto, etc).

• If the slide is closed or locked open;

• If the firearm was jammed, and if so, how;

• Whether a magazine is present or not. If present, the number of rounds remaining in the magazine;

• Whether a live round is in the chamber.

• Extra magazines or other ammunition storage devices carried by the officer should be inspected and the number of live rounds noted.

If a firearm is known to have been discharged in the incident, or if it is believed to have been discharged, the firearm shall be seized as evidence and a replacement provided to the officer as quickly as possible, unless circumstances dictate otherwise.

Patrol Officer’s checklist

• Eliminate Hostile Threats

• Secure Suspects

• Protective sweep of incident scene

• Request back-up

• Additional patrols

• Supervisor

• Administer first aid to yourself and others

• Request emergency medical assistance

• Broadcast B.O.L.O.’s

• Secure your firearm

• Secure the scene

• Set up crime scene inner perimeter

• Set up crime scene outer perimeter

• Implement Crime Scene Access Log

• Protect evidence

• Identify persons at or leaving the scene

• Identify witnesses and request cooperation

Officer In Charge Checklist

• Ensure the scene is safe and secure from hostile persons.

• Determine condition of officer and others

• Ensure that medical support has been notified as necessary. • Ensure the crime scene is being protected and the perimeter is adequate.

• Obtain additional staffing, as necessary

• Ensure witnesses have been identified or detained.

• Notify command/specialized units or personnel as appropriate:

• Shift Commander

• Easton Police Department

• Chief of Police

• District Attorney’s Office

• State Police

• Chaplain

• Legal Advisor

• Injured or Deceased Officer’s Family.

• Notify officer’s family

• Assign officer to family

• If officer is shot, transport to hospital with support officer.

• Collect officer’s clothing and equipment as evidence

• Move immediately involved officers away from the area

• Don’t release officer’s name

• Establish command post if required

• Appoint a recorder to document police actions at the scene. • Appoint command post staff

• Brief personnel

• Chief of Police

• Preliminary diagram

• Locate and secure officer’s weapons

• Begin gathering information on incident