The St. Paul Police Department is seeking public feedback on its freshly updated use-of-force policy.
The department said Friday that it’s ready to publicly share the “Officer Response to Resistance and Aggression” draft policy after months of research and a review from Mayor Melvin Carter.
“A lot of thought and work has gone into updating this policy — by our training staff, use-of-force experts and Mayor Carter,” Police Chief Todd Axtell said in a prepared statement. “But at the end of the day, the policy belongs to our community. It needs to work for the people we serve, our officers and the department. That’s why it’s important for people to read it, understand it and share their feedback with us.”
Carter released a statement Friday calling the policy an “important step forward to protect the sacred trust” between the community and police.
“A use-of-force policy that reflects our values is critical to ensuring we can all work together to keep our neighborhoods safe and build a city that works for all of us,” Carter said.
The department said the draft policy replaces an “outdated use-of-force continuum.” Among the changes are clearer guidance for officers dealing with people experiencing a crisis, the statement said.
Axtell said the policy has also been updated to include recommendations from former President Barack Obama’s report on “21st Century Policing.”
“The policy emphasizes the sanctity of life, the use of de-escalation to avoid and reduce the need to use force, and the importance of time, distance, teamwork and communication to increase the likelihood of peaceful resolutions,” Axtell said. “These are things our officers already do, so it’s important that the policy reflect them and that we hold ourselves to these standards.”
The department will host several community meetings to gather feedback, and residents can review the draft and share their opinions online.
After hearing from the community, the department will finalize the policy and use it to train officers.