Department Policies Now Align with all 8 Can’t Wait Reforms
ARLINGTON — Chief Julie Flaherty is proud to report that the Arlington Police Department has updated its use of force policy, requiring officers to intervene in situations where another officer is using unreasonable force, bringing the department fully in line with all reforms of the 8 Can’t Wait campaign.
The policy changes, effective immediately, state that every officer present at any scene where physical force is being used must stop, or attempt to stop, another officer when force is being inappropriately applied or is no longer required for the safety of the officers or the public.
Arlington Police officers already operate under a use of force policy that includes many aspects of the 8 Can’t Wait reforms, as do law enforcement agencies across Massachusetts. With the addition of the Duty to Intervene policy, the department’s use of force policy is now fully aligned with all 8 Can’t Wait reforms.
The 8 Can’t Wait campaign encourages departments to adopt restrictive use of force policies, including: banning chokeholds and strangleholds, requiring de-escalation, requiring officers to provide a verbal warning before shooting, exhausting all alternatives before shooting, implementing a duty to intervene, banning shooting at moving vehicles, requiring a use of force continuum and requiring comprehensive reporting of all incidents that resulted in the threat or use of force.
In addition, the department has updated its policy to include further language on its existing ban on neck restraints as well as the requirements for officers to attempt to de-escalate any situation and give verbal warning before using force.
“Our use of force policy has for many years included characteristics of the 8 Can’t Wait reforms, and we continuously review our internal policies to evaluate how they may be advanced to protect the welfare of all people,” Chief Flaherty said. “Including the duty to intervene requirement reflects not only what the community expects from us, but also what we already expect of our officers on a day to day basis.”
In 2019, the Arlington Police Department responded to 27,649 calls for service. There were zero complaints for use of excessive force, and there have been zero such complaints so far in 2020.
The Arlington Police Department is an accredited law enforcement agency under the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission, a voluntary process that involves a self-assessment and verification by an outside team of reviewers that the department’s policies and procedures are in line with best practices not only in Massachusetts but nationally as well.