DULUTH – The Duluth Police Department outlined updates — most of them formalities — to its use of force policies on Thursday, with Chief Mike Tusken saying chokeholds are considered deadly force and had already been out of practice for decades.
“After the tragic death of George Floyd, our community requested an audit of our policies and to assure them we are aligned with the best practices in policing,” Tusken said.
The timing allows the department to add and clarify policies to “provide clearer direction to our officers about our expectations and foster better community understanding.”
Officers will continue to be required to follow de-escalation tactics and exhaust all alternatives before shooting.
“Communication is the number one tool our officers use when they’re out in the field,” Tusken said. “Having the capacity to use less lethal tools to resolve potentially lethal encounters is another way we are poised to save the lives of people who are experiencing a crisis today but through good tactics, training and tools, can live tomorrow.”
Tusken said a “duty to intervene” policy was updated to state that “regardless of tenure or rank, officers must intervene verbally or physically if another officer is using force outside of policy and training.”
Four former Minneapolis police officers have been charged in the murder of George Floyd on Memorial Day. For nearly eight minutes, officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck, even as Floyd, who was handcuffed, said he could not breathe, and three other officers stood by and did not intervene.
In 2019 Duluth police had more than 100,000 interactions with the public and made 3,500 arrests; use of force was recorded in 158 incidents. In 2018 police used force 151 times; use of force was reported 150 times in 2017.
Other policy updates and clarifications include:
• Warning required before shooting.
• No shooting at moving vehicles.