June 18, 2020
Dear Burlingame Community,
I would like to take this opportunity to update the community on some developments since my June 2 message.
Before I do, I would like to thank everyone for their kind words of support, input, and suggestions. I would also like to thank everyone who has participated in marches and protests in Burlingame for ensuring that they remained peaceful.
I am happy to report that the Mayor and City Council voted unanimously to take former President Barack Obama’s pledge (sponsored by the Obama Foundation) to address police use of force policies.
- Review of police use of force policies.
- Engagement of the community by including a diverse range of input, experiences, and stories.
- Reporting the findings of the review to the community for feedback.
- Reform of our community’s police use of force policies.
I look forward to the opportunity to work with community and City leaders to review and reform our department’s use of force policy as appropriate.
I am also happy to report that the Burlingame Police Department felt it necessary to make two immediate changes to our use of force policy prior to the review. Earlier this week we banned the use of the carotid hold, chokeholds and strangleholds by our officers. In addition, we added language that requires officers to utilize de-escalation techniques as an alternative to force when feasible. Our officers are all trained in de-escalation techniques and practice them routinely in the field; however, that specific language was missing from our policy.
I would also like to address the “8 Can’t Wait” campaign that so many of you mentioned in your messages to the Council and me. The Burlingame Police Department already has 7 out of the 8 in place in some fashion (see below for details). A closer look at the “8 Can’t Wait” will be part of the upcoming review.
- Ban Chokeholds and Strangleholds. In place. The use of carotid control holds, chokeholds or strangleholds is prohibited (BPD Policy 300.3.4).
- Require De-escalation. In place. Officers shall be trained in alternatives to deadly force and de-escalation techniques, and shall utilize de-escalation techniques, crisis intervention tactics, and other alternatives to force when feasible (BPD Policy 300.3).
- Require Warning Before Shooting. In place. Where feasible, the officer shall, prior to the use of force, make reasonable efforts to identify themselves as a peace officer and to warn that deadly force may be used (BPD Policy 300.4(b)).
- Exhaust All Alternatives Before Shooting. In place. If an objectively reasonable officer would consider it safe and feasible to do so under the totality of the circumstances, officers should evaluate the use of other reasonably available resources and techniques when determining whether to use deadly force (BPD Policy 300.4).
- Duty to Intervene. In place. 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 should promptly report these observations to a supervisor (BPD Policy 300.2.1).
- Ban Shooting at Motor Vehicles. In place. Shots fired at or from a moving vehicle are rarely effective. Officers should move out of the path of an approaching vehicle instead of discharging their firearm at the vehicle or any of its occupants. 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. Officers should not shoot at any part of a vehicle in an attempt to disable the vehicle (BPD Policy 300.4.1).
- Require Use of Force Continuum. The use of force continuum is an outdated model that has proven impractical, even dangerous, when applied in real life situations. Instead, our policies and training focus on the reasonableness and feasibility of other force options and de-escalation techniques.
- Require Comprehensive Reporting. In place. Any use of force by a member of this department shall be documented promptly, completely and accurately in an appropriate report, depending on the nature of the incident. The officer should articulate the factors perceived and why he/she believed the use of force was reasonable under the circumstances. To collect data for purposes of training, resource allocation, analysis and related purposes, the department may require the completion of additional report forms, as specified in department policy, procedure or law (BPD Policy 300.5). Statistical data regarding all officer-involved shootings and incidents involving use of force resulting in serious bodily injury is to be reported to the California Department of Justice as required by Government Code § 12525.2 (BPD Policy 300.5.2). Additional supervisor review/investigation including completing a “Supervisor's Review of Critical Incidents Civil Liability Incident Report” is required in all use of force incidents (BPD Policy 300.7).
In addition to the Use of Force policies we have in place, all of our officers receive Crisis Intervention Training (CIT). CIT trains law enforcement officers to become more adept at dealing with individuals in crisis, de-escalate potentially violent situations, and ensure the safety and diversion of individuals in crisis to a treatment center. We also utilize the San Mateo County Mental Health Assessment and Referral Team (SMART). This team provides first responders with immediate in-field assistance when needed.
The Police Department also partners with the non-profits LifeMoves and Star Vista for homeless outreach. These partnerships allow our department to offer compassionate assistance to those in our community struggling with homelessness.
Again, thank you all for the thoughtful responses. Wishing everyone peaceful times ahead.Mike Matteucci
Chief of Police