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Aside arrow Statement On Use Of Force Policy And Duty To Intervene
June 2, 2020 1:01 pm

USE OF FORCE AND DUTY TO INTERVENE:

Shortly after taking office in 2017, Volusia Sheriff Mike Chitwood commissioned a use of force study by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF). The study analyzed all of our policies, procedures, tactics, techniques and training related to use of force, as well as each of our deputy-involved shootings over the prior 3 years.

The final report was published in 2018 and is available here:

https://www.volusiasheriff.org/core/fileparse.php/6189/urlt/VSO-PERF-Use-of-Force-Review-Final.pdf

As that study was in the works, we were in the process of updating our policies on use of force and less lethal weapons.

One of several recommendations in the PERF report was to add a statement to policy regarding the duty to intervene.

The report said: “This statement should include the following language: ‘Deputies have a duty to intervene if they anticipate or observe the unreasonable, unnecessary, or disproportionate use of force.’

We added that language to our policy. Some of the current policy language is as follows:

It is the policy of the VSO that Deputies use only the minimal degree of force that is necessary to overcome the immediate threat and/or to effectuate an arrest. Excessive force will not be tolerated. Deputies shall exercise all safe and reasonable means of control and containment; the application of force shall be guided by Florida State Statutes, VSO Directives, and agency approved training.

The Sheriff authorizes Deputies to use that amount of force that is proportional, reasonable and necessary under the circumstances to protect themselves and/or others while performing their lawful duties. When feasible and practical, Deputies shall attempt to resolve potential use of force situations with non-physical force alternatives, such as direction, persuasion, verbal warning, or time/distance tactics prior to resorting to the use of force. Deputies have a duty to intervene if they anticipate or observe the unreasonable, unnecessary, or disproportionate use of force.

You can read our full use of force policy here:

https://www.volusiasheriff.org/core/fileparse.php/6189/urlt/GO-001-01_use_of_force_guidelines.pdf

The policy also includes a definition of neck holds, which are considered lethal force. In other words, the only instance in which a deputy would be justified in using an intentional neck hold is a life-threatening situation where lethal force is justified.

We’re constantly evaluating our policies to make sure we’re setting a high standard for the actions of law enforcement in Volusia County. We were doing this before George Floyd was senselessly killed, and the protests across America today are a reminder of why we have to continue to be open and accountable about how we police our community.

Volusia County Sheriff's Office

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