LAKE HAVASU CITY – The Lake Havasu City Police Department reviews its Use of Force policy annually, and revised it on Sept. 2.
Some of the changes revolved around terminology and deleting extraneous text, but there were several additions to the policy this year.
A text change that could be significant is the addition of the phrase “less lethal device” in the opening section.
The sentence originally specified firearms only, but now specifies that officers must be trained on the use of every weapon.
The opening section also adds a sentence regarding degree of force: “In any event, the amount of force used in a given situation should be the minimal amount necessary to accomplish the task.”
The opening section now adds that non-lethal force options include handcuffs, later explained as a way of protecting the officer and preventing escape.
A code section on Tasers – an incapacitating weapon that uses electricity to subdue violent suspects – is greatly expanded, explaining primary target areas for Taser use and applying a five-second burst of energy.
The section also adds that Taser use is limited to those situations in which an officer reasonably believes that the suspect is imminently a physical threat.
“Non-physical or passive resistance is not grounds for the use of an electronic incapacitating device,” states the code section.
Assistant Chief Randy McCaleb said the maximum range of the Taser gun is 21 feet, but that the effectiveness of the weapon decreased after 15 feet.
Other less-than-lethal weapons in use by the department include beanbag rounds, good to about 20 feet, and rubber bullets.
McCaleb said there are two kinds of rubber bullets, 12-gauge sabot round and a 12-gauge shell containing 33 rubber pellets. The effective range of the sabot only was about 20 feet, and there is no standard for the pellets due to the spread.
The department also has specialty-impact weapons that fire 37-millimeter foam projectiles to about the same range as the rubber bullets.
McCaleb wanted to stress that while these items are available to police, they would not have been deployed in the Mike Judge situation since Judge was armed with a loaded handgun.
The beanbag rounds and the rubber bullets are meant more for riots and crowd control and are supposed to be aimed below the waist, or at the ground for a “skip-fire” method of crowd control.
Skip-fire, according to McCaleb, is when an officer shoots the 12-gauge rubber pellet rounds in front of a crowd of people so that the pellets ricochet into the crowd below the waist and deter them.
Other modifications to the document involve reporting procedures, adding that a “Use of Force” form is to be completed.
The code stipulates that this form does not replace the required documentation in the crime/arrest report and is used for statistical purposes.
“The Operations Commander will review all Use of Force forms and the Patrol Administrative Specialist will maintain a database using these forms,” states the document.