Moab City Police Chief Bret Edge presented to the Moab City Council on Tuesday, June 23 his own analysis of how his department’s policies align with the proposed #8CANTWAIT reforms. Edge’s presentation, titled “Maintaining Standards Beyond Community Expectations,” asserts that the department’s policies are “compliant” with each of the eight proposed reforms.
Edge’s presentation also included information about bias trainings in which the police department has recently participated, the department’s use of body cameras, partnerships with local entities including Seekhaven and the Moab Valley Cultural Center. To view the presentation in its entirety, visit Moab City’s YouTube channel, where public meetings are streamed and recorded, and search for the June 23 meeting.
What follows is The Times-Independent’s analysis of how the police department’s policies align with the proposed reforms in the #8CANTWAIT campaign.
Does the Moab City Police Department:
Ban chokeholds and strangleholds?
Almost. Although Moab City Police Department policies do not explicitly ban the use of chokeholds or strangleholds, they do ban the use of “pain compliance techniques,” i.e. holds, on which officers have not been trained. According to Chief Edge, officers are not trained on chokeholds or strangleholds. Therefore, officers may not use such holds.
- Policy 300.3.3: “Officers may only apply those pain-compliance techniques for which they have successfully completed department-approved training.”
Does MPD require de-escalation?
No. Moab City Police Department Policy 429 addresses “Crisis Intervention Incidents.” The policy specifically focuses on responding to mental health and emotional crises and do not explicitly require officers to de-escalate situations.
- Policy 429.4: “These individuals may still present a serious threat to officers; such a threat should be addressed with reasonable tactics. Nothing in this policy shall be construed to limit an officer’s authority to use reasonable force when interacting with a person in crisis.”
- Policy 429.5: “Officers should consider that taking no action or passively monitoring the situation may be the most reasonable response to a mental health crisis.”
Does MPD require warning before use of deadly force in all situations?
No. Similar to the sheriff’s office policies, the police department’s policies recommend but do not require warning before using deadly force, such as discharging a gun.
- Policy 300.4 (b): “… a verbal warning should precede the use of deadly force, where feasible.”
Does MPD require officers to exhaust all alternatives before using deadly force?
No. The police department’s policies, identically to those of the sheriff’s office, list situations in which use of force is justified, and the policy requires that the amount of force used is only that which “reasonably appears necessary.” However, the policies do not set a requirement that officers use other alternatives before using deadly force.
- Policy 300.3: “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.”
Does MPD ban shooting at moving vehicles?
No. The police department’s policies, identically to those of the sheriff’s office, advise officers not to shoot at moving vehicles. The policies outline exceptions and do not set requirements.
- Policy 300.4.1: “An officer should only discharge a firearm at a moving vehicle or its occupants when the officer reasonably believes there are no other reasonable means available to avert the threat of the vehicle, or if deadly force other than the vehicle is directed at the officer or others.”
Does MPD have a use-of-force continuum or matrix?
Not quite. The Moab City Police Department does not implement any formal use-of-force continuum model. The policies do not outline a progression of subject classifications in which varying levels of force are appropriate. For example, the policies do not formally differentiate between subjects who are passively compliant, passively resistant, actively resistant or actively aggressive.
The policies do list factors that determine the reasonableness of use of force and differentiate between pain compliance techniques and deadly force.
Does MPD require officers to intervene and report when other officers use excessive force?
Yes. Officers are required to intervene when a fellow officer uses excessive force, when they are able to intervene. After a recent change by Edge at the behest of Moab City Council Member Rani Derasary, officers are now also required to report such instances of fellow officers using excessive force.
- Policy 300.2.1: “Any officer present and observing another officer using force that is clearly beyond that which is objectively reasonable under the circumstances shall, when in a position to do so, intercede to prevent the use of unreasonable force. An officer who observes another employee use force that exceeds the degree of force permitted by law shall promptly report these observations to a supervisor.”
Does MPD require officers to report each time they use or threaten force against civilians?
Almost. Officers are required to report all instances of use of force, but the policies do not require officers to report instances of threatened force. Additionally, supervisory notice is required in nine specific circumstances, including in circumstances where use of force caused visible injury, an individual complained of pain, a weapon is used, an individual is struck, or when restraints such as handcuffs are used.