Duluth Police Department updates use of force policy

Emily Ness
Updated: July 02, 2020 10:45 PM

Outrage from communities across the country over the death of George Floyd in police custody have forced police departments nationwide to evaluate their policies and practices. Namely, use of force. On Thursday, the Duluth Police Department announced changes to their use of force policy.

“When our community reached out to us and asked us to do an audit, we took that seriously,” Police Chief Mike Tusken said. “We found that DPD followed best practices, however, we recognize the opportunity to add and clarify policy language which will provide greater clarity and direction to our officers.”

To provide greater clarity and direction to officers, the Duluth Police Department updated their use of force policy to include:

  • The formal banning of choke holds and strangleholds
  • The requirement of de-escalation tactics and warning before shooting
  • The duty to intervene regardless of tenure or rank

“We added language that states: ‘Regardless or tenure or rank, officers must intervene verbally or physically if another officer is using force outside of policy and training,’” Chief Mike Tusken said.

Other changes to the Duluth Police Department’s use of force policy include banning shooting at moving vehicles and making it a requirement that officers report all use of force incidents.

“Officers are required to report any use of force above putting someone into handcuffs,” Police Chief Mike Tusken said.

A full list of updates to the Duluth Police Department's use of force policy can be found here.

Seargent Joel Olejnicak said comprehensive training and policy to reflect that training is essential to prepare officers for the difficult and dynamic situations they encounter on the job.

“Ultimately, when we provide them with the best possible training, the best possible results end up for the public and that’s really what we are looking for,” Olejnicak said.

Olejnicak said he sees the importance of solidifying these changes in writing. 

"Just having it written down for people to see, for our officers to look at, for us to bring up at each training and to say it’s not just something that’s a slide on a power point, it’s actually something that’s memorialized in our policy that we can go back to and highlight and hand out,” Olejnicak said.

According to Police Chief Mike Tusken, the new policy is effective immediately and officers are expected to review and sign off on it.


Emily Ness

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