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’The police department is vehemently opposed’: APD on proposed ordinance to use of force

APD: Officer-Involved Shooting in Eagle River (KTUU)
APD: Officer-Involved Shooting in Eagle River (KTUU)(KTUU)
Published: Aug. 12, 2020 at 7:31 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Anchorage Police Chief Justin Doll, as well as the Anchorage Police Department Employee’s Association, denounced a proposed ordinance that would impact the way police use force. The police said that the changes would make it too difficult to do their jobs the way it’s written now.

The ordinance suggests a number of restrictions on police. Some examples are prohibiting deadly force when a suspect is in handcuffs, no firing warning shots or at moving vehicles, and no sitting or kneeling on someone’s back in a manner that compresses the diaphragm.

Doll said that he does not support this ordinance.

“I have to say that the police department is vehemently opposed to this or any operational policy being placed in the municipal code,” Doll said, “and I really can’t support this ordinance or any version of it. I think that the lack of flexibility that it introduces into our operations will absolutely have a negative impact on public safety.”

Doll continued to say that APD is nearly finished with creating a policy portal that shows all the current procedures that officers must follow. He said most of the measures on the ordinance are already in practice in some way, like no warning shots. However, the way the ordinance suggests they make it “almost impossible to comply with” according to Doll.

The chief explained that things happen really fast when you’re an officer responding to a call. He said the level of explanation officers would be accountable for would get in the way of keeping the public safe.

“This is basically written like, ‘we don’t want you shooting at or from moving vehicles. If that happens for some reason, you better be prepared to explain it in-depth, because we generally prohibit it, but also, recognize the fact that I can’t anticipate every single possible thing that could happen on the street. So basically just be forewarned. If you do this, it’s gonna be under a microscope,‘” he said responding to that restriction.

He said the way the procedures work for that now gives some room for review after the act, and officers can either be justified or punished if it comes down to that.

Sgt. Jeremy Conkling, president of the ADP Employees Association, backed up the points made by Doll while bringing up more examples.

For the shooting at moving vehicles restriction, Charlene Apok with Alaska Native Movement asked why officers can’t shoot at the tires instead of the driver. Conkling said that shooting the tire doesn’t stop the car, and could make a situation more dangerous.

On the point of not using deadly force on people in handcuffs, he and Doll said there are numerous instances where people detained in handcuffs have gotten loose and grabbed firearms from officers.

The NAACP, Native Movement, the Alaska Black Caucus, as well as some assembly members present at the discussion Wednesday challenged the police department in an effort to hold them more accountable while being open to conversation and compromise.

Celeste Hodge Growden, president of the Alaska Black Caucus, directly asked Doll and Conkling, “what’s wrong with being under a microscope?”

“The Alaska Black Caucus believes the proposed ordinance is definitely a step in the right direction,” Hodge Growden said. “Do we need to possibly tweak in some areas? Probably so. But at the same time, this moves us forward.”

Hodge Growden dug in deeper saying she wants to see some language prohibiting tear gas in crowded areas and having the data for use of force be accurately collected and made available to the public at large.

The conversation was tabled until further discussion could be made between the public and police, which all parties said they are open to moving forward.

Copyright 2020 KTUU. All rights reserved.

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