Lancaster police told residents about their new use of force policy at City Hall Wednesday. It comes after a video of an officer Tasing a man sitting on a sidewalk caused controversy this summer.
“We were behind,” Lancaster Mayor Danene Sorace said. “Our police bureau was behind relative to this particular policy, and now we have now caught up with other departments across the country.”
Lancaster is getting feedback on its new use of force policy.
“Because it’s a controversial topic, it’s important to hear a difference of opinions,” said Anna Tran, a Lancaster resident.
The new rules were put in place in August, but city leaders say they will continue to update them.
“Best practices within government and case law is really what governs use of force policy,” police Chief Jarrad Berkihiser said.
Eric Leanza, the police department’s policy manager, studied different approaches from around the country to transform the city’s guidelines into what he considers the most comprehensive and progressive policy.
“There is more to it now,” Leanza said. “Is it proportional given the entire totality of the circumstances? Is it necessary?”
De-escalating situations is key.
“No longer can you use a Taser when somebody is not complying with a verbal command,” Sorace said.
Officers also now have a duty to intervene if they see another officer using too much force.
The police department says every officer is getting trained and tested on this policy and any other new rules.
“We require a 100-percent pass rate,” said Leanza. “What I mean by that is every question right.”
Many residents say the change is a step in the right direction.
“We have to come to a neutral understanding of how we respect everybody, including police officers and citizens,” said Jose Rivera, a Lancaster resident.
Click here for more details on the policy and the city’s survey to give feedback.