Use of Force Policy
NASSAU COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT USE OF FORCE POLICY
I. Department’s Mission
The Sheriff’s Department is committed to maintaining the safety and security of its members, civilian staff, the community at large and inmates through the implementation of management strategies that promote safety through the efficient utilization of resources. The Department is comprised of two divisions: Enforcement and Corrections.
The mission of the Correction Division is to provide a safe and secure environment for the staff and inmates, while providing for the care, custody, and control of detainees and prisoners committed to its custody by the judiciary. In this regard, the Department is required to comply with all laws, specifically correction law, oversight agencies, specifically the New York State Commission of Correction.
It is the mission of the Enforcement Division to carry out the orders of the New York State Courts including the discovery and seizure of property, the execution of warrants, and to conduct evictions. The Division also assists the Department of Social Services in the location of assets of parents who fail to support their children.
The appropriate use of force by members of law enforcement is a matter of utmost importance to both the public and the law enforcement community. In that regard, all Members of the Sheriff’s Department receive training and must demonstrate their understanding on the proper application and use of force. Therefore, when faced with a situation where the use of force is considered, the guiding values of Members of the Nassau County Sheriff’s Department shall be those principles set forth herein.
A. Objectively Reasonable – An objective standard used to judge an officer’s actions. Under this standard, a particular application of force must be judged through the perspective of a reasonable officer facing the same set of circumstances, without the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, and be based on the totality of the facts that are known to that officer at the time that the force was used.
B. Deadly Physical Force – Physical force which, under the circumstances in which it is used, is readily capable of causing death or other serious physical injury.
C. Physical Injury – Impairment of physical condition or substantial pain.
D. Serious Physical Injury – Physical injury which creates a substantial risk of death, or which causes death or serious and protracted disfigurement, protracted impairment of health or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ.
III. Use of Force – General
A. Members of the Nassau County Sheriff’s Department shall only use force in accordance with existing laws and Nassau County Sheriff’s Department policy, rules and procedures. In all cases, the primary duty of all Members of the Department is to protect human life and provide for the safety of the community.
B. In some cases it may be necessary to use force to bring a particular incident or person under control. In those situations, force is authorized when reasonably believed to be necessary to effect a lawful arrest or detention, to prevent the escape of a person from custody, or in defense of one’s self or another.
C. A Member may use only such force as is “objectively reasonable” under the circumstances. The reasonableness of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene.
IV. Determining the Objective Reasonableness of Force
A. When used, force should be only that which is objectively reasonable given the circumstances perceived by the officer at the time of the event.
B. To determine the objective reasonableness of force, Members shall consider the following factors:
1. The severity of the crime or circumstances;
2. The level and immediacy of the threat or resistance posed by the suspect;
3. The potential for injury to citizens, officers, suspects and inmates;
4. The risk or attempt of the suspect to escape;
5. The knowledge, training, and experience of the officer;
6. Officer/suspect considerations such as age, size, relative strength, skill level, injury or exhaustion, and the number of officers and subjects;
7. Other environmental conditions or exigent circumstances.
C. In general, Members are expected to proceed in accordance with their training with regard to the use of force continuum, including the use of de-escalation techniques.
D. If the use of force is reasonable and necessary, the Member shall initiate appropriate use of force techniques and shall continue to assess the circumstances to determine whether it is appropriate to escalate or de-escalate the use of force.
E. It should also be noted that Members of the Department who fail to use objectively reasonable force when warranted under the circumstances of a particular situation may endanger themselves, the community, fellow officers and others. As such, in every situation, Members are expected to act intelligently and employ sound judgment in furtherance of the spirit of this policy.
V. Duty to Intervene
A. Members of the Department who witness another Member of the Department using force that he/she reasonably believes to be clearly beyond what is objectively reasonable under the circumstances are obligated to intervene to prevent the use of unreasonable force if and when he/she has a realistic opportunity to prevent harm.
B. Members of the Department who observe another member using force that exceeds what would be “objectively reasonable” under the circumstances shall promptly report such observations to his/her immediate supervisor.
VI. Deadly Force
A. Deadly force is only appropriate under circumstances where its use is justified and authorized by applicable federal and state law, and is in accordance with the Department’s policy, rules and procedures.
B. A Member of the Department is only justified in using deadly force to:
1. protect him/herself or another person from what the Member reasonably believes is an imminent threat of serious physical injury or death; or
2. stop a fleeing suspect where the Member:
a. has probable cause to believe the suspect has committed a felony involving the infliction or threat of serious physical injury or death; and
b.reasonably believes that the suspect poses an imminent threat of serious physical injury to the Member or to others.
C. Where feasible, some warning should be given prior to the use of deadly physical force.
VII. Prohibited Uses of Force
Force shall not be used by a Member of the Department for the following reasons:
1. To extract an item from the anus or vagina of a subject without a warrant, except where exigent circumstances are present;
2. To coerce a confession from a subject in custody;
3. To obtain blood, saliva, urine, or other bodily fluid or cells, from an individual for the purposes of scientific tests in lieu of a court order where required;
4. Against persons who are handcuffed or restrained unless used to prevent injury, escape, or otherwise overcome active or passive resistance posed by the subject.
VIII. Reporting and Review
A. Any injuries resulting from a use of force incident shall result in the appropriate and timely medical attention being provided to the injured party.
B. Members of the Department shall notify their immediate supervisor as soon as practicable of their involvement in the following use of force incidents and shall complete a departmental use of force report:
1. Incidents that result in physical injury;
2. Incidents that a reasonable person would believe is likely to cause an injury;
3. Incidents that result in a complaint of pain from the suspect other than complaints of minor discomfort from handcuffing;
4. Incidents that result in the discharge of an Electronic Control Device (ECD) after being displayed; and
5. Incidents that result in the discharge of a firearm at a subject.
IX. Procedures for Investigating Use of Force Incidents
A. Where practicable, a supervisor should respond to the scene to begin the preliminary investigation of a use of force incident.
B. A supervisor that is made aware of a force incident shall ensure the completion of a use of force report by all officers involved in a reportable use of force and, to the extent practical, make a record of all officers present.
C. In addition, photographs shall be taken of any injuries, or lack thereof, to officers or suspects and be included with the use of force report.
D. Such report shall be forwarded to the Tour Commander for investigation of the incident. Copies of all completed reports shall be forwarded up the chain of command to the Chief Administrative Officer.
E. Failure to comply with this Use of Force policy, including failure to report uses of force as required herein, may result in disciplinary action.