Sheriff’s use of force policy approved

DALLAS — Polk County’s Intentional Use of Deadly Physical Force Planning Authority approved revisions to its response plan Thursday evening.

The planning authority consists of Sheriff Mark Garton, District Attorney Aaron Felton, all city police chiefs, an Oregon State Police representative and a member of the public. The vote was unanimous.

Felton said the most substantive change in the policy is philosophical and is reflected in the name change from, “Law Enforcement of Deadly Physical Force Response Plan,” to “Law Enforcement Intentional Use of Deadly Physical Force Response Plan.”

He said that change was approved for two reasons: Making investigations in Polk County mirror those in Marion County, because the Salem Police Department works in both jurisdictions; and ensuring investigations of use of deadly physical force are done the same way whether or not those incidents result in injury or death.

“I want Salem officers to know what they may be encountering in terms of investigations, that it is very much consistent,” Felton said.

Salem Police Chief Jerry Moore explained why Marion County made that shift previously.

“‘Intentional use of deadly physical force’ was included in Marion County simply because there have been occasions where deadly force has been utilized, but it didn’t result in the death or even the striking of an individual,” he said. “We felt it was important that if the officer’s intent was to use deadly physical force that should be investigated exactly the same way.

“There were occasions where deadly physical force was used and, because it didn’t have the consequence that you might think it might have, that it was not investigated the same way. That’s a big shift that we made.”

Garton said the next step is to present the amendments to each government body represented by the planning authority.

Two-thirds of those jurisdictions must approve the plan for it to be adopted and be forwarded to the Oregon Department of Justice.

State law requires each county to have a response plan outlining protocols for investigations, including recommendations on how to decide which agency should investigate use of deadly force incidents, training, and communicating with the public following an incident.


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