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#8CantWait: How Does the Auburn Police Department Hold Up?

The #8CantWait project from Campaign Zero aims to “bring immediate change to police departments.”   The #8CantWait project’s calls on calls on law enforcement agencies throughout the country to make policy changes with the following eight reform policies:

  • Ban Chokehold and Strangeholds
  • Require de-escalation
  • Require warning before shooting
  • Requires exhaust all alternatives before shooting
  • Duty to intervene
  • Ban shooting at moving vehicles
  • Require use of force continuum
  • Require comprehensive reporting

Chief O’Neil Answers APD Training and Policy Questions

Auburn Police Chief Dan O’Neil addressed these eight policy reform items in a June 19 letter to the community.

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Chief Dan O’Neil, Auburn Police Department | Courtesy Photo

“I have received several questions in recent weeks related to the operations of the Auburn Police Department. The following is meant to answer some of the most common questions and provide information to our community. I believe that it is important for this information to be available to the entire community, not just those asking the questions,” states O’Neil in his public letter.

The following are direct responses from O’Neil’s letter. Click here to read the chief’s entire letter, which answers more questions than the #8CantWait policies.

Does your Use of Force Policy allow for “chokeholds” and “strangleholds”?

The answer to that question is no. Chokeholds and strangleholds are designed to restrict airflow. Because of the obvious dangers associated with such holds, these types of holds are considered deadly force in our policy. We do allow officers in specific situations the use of Vascular Neck Restraint. This technique in no way compromises airflow and is an effective alternative to other forms of force which are likely to cause injury. The Auburn Police Department has been using Vascular Neck Restraints since 2004. Research shows that the use of a vascular neck restraint reduces injury to both the offender and the officer.

Does your department conduct training in de-escalation, crisis intervention, and anti-bias training?

De-escalation is covered in these sections of our policy and procedures manual.

  • Section 207 Training
  • Section 304 Taser and Use of Force
  • Section 430 Crisis Intervention Incidents
  • Section 409 Emergent Detentions
  • Section 433 Civil Disputes

Each year, we conduct four sessions of defensive tactics that all commissioned employees are required to attend. There is an emphasis placed on de-escalation during each session. At the end of the year, we measure the success of this training with mock scenes where officers are required to demonstrate crisis communications and de-escalation.

In addition to defensive tactics, officers get two hours of crisis intervention training through the state. This training focuses on crisis communications and de-escalation. Additionally, the State of Washington requires that 25% of all patrol officers attend a 40-hour crisis intervention training course. The Auburn Police Department exceeds this standard and requires every commissioned officer to attend this 40-hour course. Officers also attend bias-based policing training every other year with ethics the year in between. Additionally, all members of the Auburn Police Department will attend a 10-hour course at CJTC related to Implicit Bias. On average, Auburn Police Department employees attend an average of 17,000 hours of training annually.

Does your Use of Force Policy require a warning before shooting?

Our department policies are based on a national standard developed through Lexipol. Our policy requires a verbal warning not only before shots are fired but before the use of any force, when feasible.

Does your Use of Force Policy require officers to exhaust all alternatives before shooting?

Yes. Officers may use deadly force to protect him/herself or others from what he/she reasonably believes would be an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury.

Does your department have a policy requiring officers to intervene or report excessive force?

Yes, the Auburn Police Department has had a policy for several years requiring officers to intervene and report any use of force.

Does your Use of Force Policy ban shooting at moving vehicles?

Shots at or from a moving vehicle are rarely effective. Officers are advised to move out of the path of an approaching vehicle instead of discharging their firearm at the vehicle or any of its occupants.

Does your Use of Force Policy require a “use of force continuum?”

No. The idea of a use of force continuum is an outdated model. Our policy focuses on fundamental concepts of reasonableness. Officers may only use the amount of force necessary to effect the lawful purpose attended. The reasonableness of force is judged against 17 factors used to determine reasonableness and is in line with the current best practices of the law enforcement profession.

Does your policy require comprehensive reporting?

Yes. Our policy requires that any use of force is immediately reported to the on-duty supervisor. The on-duty supervisor reviews the use of force and then forwards it through the chain of command through the Assistant Chief of Police.

Additional Answers

City Council will hold its regularly scheduled Study Session tonight at 5:30 pm.  The only item on the agenda is a presentation from Auburn Police. The presentation is expected to review #8CantWait. Included in this review will be additional explanations on the Vascular Neck Restraint and Force Continuum versus Reasonable Officer Standard.

These three presentations can be found here:
APD VNR 2020
Council 8 Can’t Wait
Force Continuum

Per the Governor’s Emergency Proclamation 20-28 and City of Auburn Resolution No. 5533, the City of Auburn is prohibited from holding an in-person meeting at this time. All meetings will be held virtually and telephonically.

The link to the Virtual Meeting or phone number to listen to the Council Meeting is: https://zoom.us/j/97691972972

Or join by phone: 253 215 8782  or  888 475 4499 (Toll Free)
Webinar ID: 976 9197 2972

You can also watch the meetings live on Comcast Channel 21, or on Auburn’s YouTube channel watchauburn. If you miss the livestream, the meetings are recorded and hosted for future viewing.

One Comment

  1. Robert B Robert B June 29, 2020

    My family first moved to the Auburn/Sumner area in late 1968, when dear old dad brought us up here from Oregon for a Boeing job when the logging ran out.

    That’s more than fifty years ago. Okay…I will say this. The APD has come a long way since that time, and much of that change has been in the last few years. Let’s be honest here about things. They haven’t always been the most professional PD in South King. But these days things are different. Whoever is calling policy and making those changes has been doing a pretty good job. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being maybe the London police, I give the APD a 7.5 right now. Room for improvement, sure. But pretty good these days.

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