The Penn State community should know that all of Campaign Zero’s “8 Can’t Wait” solutions are already part of both department’s policies, training and practices. We are committed to accountability and excellence and are conducting a full review of department policies to continually embrace and follow all eight principles, outlined below. We are proud of the quality training that is offered to prepare and develop our sworn officers as professionals. We remain committed to new approaches and continuous improvement focused on the way officers view or engage use of force or critical incidents. UPPS will continue to review recommendations and best practices to identify areas that will enhance transparency and accountability.
It is also important to note that Penn State police officers receive initial training through the MPOETC (Municipal Police Officers’ Education and Training Commission) Act 120 certification program and academy. MPOETC is the governing body for Penn State University Police and all Pennsylvania police departments. All departments with hired police officers must adhere to retain certification through annual required 12-hour in-service training and specialized training (i.e. firearm qualifications, CPR/first aid) throughout their entire careers.
1. Require De-Escalation
Penn State University Police sworn police officers receive annual training in a classroom and practical training setting to teach and review that they must adhere to using the least amount of force necessary in order to accomplish their lawful objectives. Officers are trained to use de-escalation skills, using the least amount of force reasonably necessary to resolve the situation. See UPPS 5.2 Use of Force and 5.16 Impact Weapons policy. Officers are trained to defuse and de-escalate a critical incident situation using communications skills and other tactics. Monadnock Defensive Tactics System Training and Monadnock Expandable Baton is documented through attendance records, instructor verification and certification. This is tracked through a policy and training management system.
2. Require warning before shooting
Per Penn State University Police and Public Safety policy, specifically, 5.2 Use of Force policy, officers, before using deadly force, will, if reasonably possible, identify themselves and order the subject to desist from unlawful activity. This requirement is reinforced in officer training as well as the 5.2 Use of Force policy. Penn State sworn police officers receive annual training in a structured range qualification and practical training setting to teach and review that they must adhere to using 5.2 Use of Force and Authorized Use of Firearms.
Where feasible, the officer should give warning of the intent to use deadly physical force (See, Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S. 1, 85 (1985).
3. Exhaust all alternatives before shooting
Per Penn State University Police and Public Safety, 5.2 Use of Force policy and 5.12 Arrest Procedures, 5.14 Conducted Electrical Weapons, 5.16 Impact Weapons, 6.3 Investigatory Stops, Penn State police officers are trained to follow a Use of Force Continuum. Penn State police officers receive regular training to use de-escalation skills, using the least amount of force reasonably necessary to resolve the situation. Officers are trained to defuse and de-escalate a critical incident situation using communications skills and other tactics.
The degree of force used in effecting an arrest, investigatory stop, or other seizure is evaluated by using an objective, reasonable police officer standard. The reasonableness of each use of force will be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, based on the facts and circumstances known to and confronting the officer at the time. (See, Graham v, Connor, 490 US 388 (1989).)
In determining the appropriate level of force to be used, officers will evaluate each situation considering the unique facts and circumstances of each case. Those factors include but are not limited to, the seriousness of the crime or suspected offense; the level of threat or resistance presented by the subject; the risk or apparent attempt by the subject to escape; and whether the subject was posing an imminent threat to officers or others. Officers should fire their firearms at another person only as a last resort to stop a subject engaged in conduct that has caused or imminently threatens to cause death or serious bodily harm to another person. Officers should use deadly force only when no other alternative would be reasonably likely to stop the threat.
4. Require “use of force continuum”
Per Penn State University Police and Public Safety 5.2 Use of Force policy, clearly states that while officers are, in the scope of their duty and within compliance with applicable law, officers will use only the amount of force reasonable to accomplish lawful objectives and to control a situation, effect an arrest, overcome resistance to arrest, or defend themselves or others from harm. When force is necessary, the degree of force employed should be in direct relationship to the amount of resistance exerted, or the immediate threat to the officers or others, and in a way that does not violate the civil rights guaranteed by our Constitution and applicable law. Penn State Officers are required to attend regularly scheduled training and receive training and certification by instructors in less lethal defensive tactics systems (Monadnock Defensive Tactics System and Monadnock Expendable Baton Systems) that are nationally recognized.
Officers only use weapons and control techniques, in the performance of their responsibilities both on and off-duty, that are issued and/or approved for use by the Department. The use of Non-deadly force is limited to defensive and control purposes. Officers use only the reasonable amount of force necessary to overcome resistance or accomplish the police task.
5. Require comprehensive reporting
Per Penn State UPPS 5.2 Use of Force policy, UPPS has an established use of force reporting system that allows for the effective review and analysis of all UPPS use of force incidents. The reporting system is designed to help identify trends, improve training and officer safety and provide timely and accurate information to the Department. Employees are required to complete the appropriate Departmental Use of Force Report form of all reports involving the response to resistance (use of force) greater than compliant handcuffing.
For incidents where a firearm is discharged (for other than training or recreational purposes), or when the response to resistance results in serious injury or death, an immediate administrative review is initiated.
6. Ban shooting at moving vehicles
Per Penn State University Police and Public Safety, 5.2 Use of Force policy, Penn State University police officers are prohibited from discharging their firearms at or from a moving vehicle, motorcycle, or bicycle (collectively, "moving vehicle") unless officers reasonably believe deadly force is necessary to defend the officer or a third person from the use, or imminent use, of deadly force.
7. Duty to intervene
We recently developed a separate policy, 5.65 Duty to Intervene, which states that all employees have a duty to intervene or request assistance if they observe another employee or sworn officer engage in any activity they believe to be a violation of civil rights or an unjustified or excessive use of force. If an employee intercedes or requests assistance based on their observation, the employee shall promptly report the incident to a supervisor. Failure for an employee to intervene or report such violations of civil rights or unlawful use of force shall be investigated by the department and may result in discipline.
8. Ban chokeholds and strangleholds
Per Penn State University Police and Public Safety 5.2 Use of Force policy, Non-Deadly Use of Force Restrictions, the use of techniques that have a high likelihood of death, such as chokeholds or neck restraints, are not permitted unless the officer is justified in using deadly force and no other alternative is available.
Other Relevant Policies
5.11 Officer Discretion and Arrest Alternatives
5.9 Preventing Biased Public Safety Practices