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Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Implement New “Use of Force” Policy

Following several controversial shootings and a five-month review, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) has implemented a new “Use of Force Policy” in an effort to reduce officer-related shootings. According to Sheriff Doug Gillespie, the new policy should also make the Las Vegas community safer.

The goal of the new “Use of Force” Policy is to “respect the value of every human life.” LVMPD officers are now advised to deescalate potentially dangerous situations before they rise to the level where force is considered or needed. Officer tools which cannot be used unless the officer perceives an imminent physical threat to either the officer or others within the area include Tasers and low-lethality shotguns. Furthermore, deadly force has been clarified as “a measure to be employed in the most extreme circumstances.”

Over a five week period, the LVMPD trained almost 3 thousand employees, including LVMPD officers, corrections officers and civilian staff, on the new “Use of Force” Policy. The training included talks from LVMPD officers previously involved in a deadly use-of-force situation who spoke on their experience and how it impacted their lives. The LVMPD plans to include “Use of Force” policy in new LVMPD training and also as part of the briefing LVMPD officers receive each week.

The five-month review was conducted by the LVMPD Office of Internal Oversight, and included recent findings by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court, input from department employees and the ACLU, and a review of industry standards. The LVMPD expects additional recommendations on how to use force when the Community Oriented Policing Services (COP) completes its investigation. The COP program was created by the U.S. Justice Department as a result of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. As a component of the Justice Department, the mission of the COP office is to advance community policing in jurisdictions of all sizes across the country. The LVMPD was the first law enforcement agency in the country to partner with COP.

In 2011, the LVMPD was engaged in 18 officer-involved shootings, 12 of which resulted in a fatality. In the first six months of 2012, the LVMPD has been involved in five officer-related shootings, which is the lowest number of officer-related shootings for a six month period in the last 10 years.

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