Your Milpitas Police Department at a Glance Today

George Floyd’s death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer has again brought attention to controversial and inappropriate issues in American policing.  The practices, culture, and policies in police departments should remain progressive and aligned with community values and equitable treatment for all citizens.   While the vast majority of police interactions do not result in any type of use of force, the Milpitas Police Department has always been committed to analyzing our industry’s best practices to deliver a high level of service, especially when an officer must make a critical decision to implement a measure to protect the safety of himself, herself, or another person.  In order to address some questions members of our community might have as a result of broader conversations, we offer the following remarks on specified policies and practices that are in response to the 8cantwait.org campaign:

Chokeholds and Strangleholds:

The Milpitas Police Department has always banned the use of “chokeholds,” “strangleholds,” or anything else that restricts the airway or breathing of a person.  Our training plans do not include chokeholds and there is no policy allowing it.  In accordance with the California Department of Justice Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST), the Milpitas Police Department has suspended the use of the Carotid Control Hold and will be reviewing the matter further.

De-Escalation:

Officers attend a 40-hour POST certified Crisis Intervention and De-Escalation training course that addresses common scenarios in the field, and dispatchers attend a similar Crisis Intervention course designed for the unique situations they encounter during calls.  Officers also receive POST approved Tactical Communication Training at least every 2 years.  In addition, over 90% of officers have successfully completed Principled Policing and Implicit Biased training, and additional sessions are being scheduled.  De-Escalation is ingrained in the fabric of what Milpitas Police Officers do daily, whether it is mediating a dispute between 2 people or facing a volatile situation with an agitated person.  De-Escalation is already included in the Milpitas Police Department’s policies governing Conducted Energy Devices and interacting with people in crisis because of mental illness.  There is no stand-alone policy referencing De-Escalation and the matter will be further reviewed.

Warning Before Shooting:

Situations that arise where an officer might be compelled to utilize a firearm occur in a set of circumstances that might sometimes be foreseen but that also might sometimes be spontaneous and sudden.  Department policy states that where feasible, officers 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, unless the officer has objectively reasonable grounds to believe the person is aware of those facts.

Alternatives Before Shooting:

In accordance with department policy, when feasible, officers should evaluate the use of other reasonable available resources and techniques when determining whether to use deadly force.

Duty to Intervene:

Our Use of Force policy mandates that any officer present and observing another officer using force that is clearly beyond that which is objectively reasonable under the circumstances, SHALL intercede to prevent the use of unreasonable force.  Any officer who observes another employee use force that exceeds the degree of force permitted by law is expected to promptly report these observations to a supervisor.

Shooting at Moving Vehicles:

The Milpitas Police Department recognizes shooting at or from a moving vehicle is rarely effective and encourages officers to move out of the path of an approaching vehicle instead of discharging a firearm.  However, shooting at moving vehicles may be authorized in limited situations where the vehicle is being used as a lethal instrument directed at a citizen or an officer who is unable to avert the threat of the moving vehicle.

Use of Force Continuum:

Our department recognizes officers are required to make split-second decisions in rapidly changing situations.  Our Use of Force policy requires officers to use only that amount of force that reasonably appears necessary given the facts and totality of the circumstances known or perceived by the officer at the time of the event.

Comprehensive Use of Force Reporting:

Any use of force by an officer is documented promptly, completely, and accurately in a police report.  Any use of force incident is thoroughly reviewed by each supervisor and/or manager in each officer’s chain of command and by different members and levels of the department’s command staff through an administrative review process that includes examining related materials, such as body worn camera footage or other recordings.  The Milpitas Police Department maintains data regarding officer-involved shootings and incidents involving uses of force resulting in serious bodily injury and regularly submits required data to the California Department of Justice.

We believe our practices are already aligned with the items listed in the 8cantwait.org campaign but we understand that some policy adjustments may be needed to support the practices already in place.  We will continue further dialogue with the community over our policing practices and policies.  We understand that mutual respect and trust is earned through our actions.

Thank you for the opportunity to continue working with you.