ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – What guides St. Louis police officers in the field when they find themselves in potentially dangerous situations?
Police Chief Sam Dotson had some answers for the St. Louis Board of Aldermen Subcommittee on Police Use of Force during its very first meeting Thursday morning.
“Some agencies, the Constitution, some state laws, allow the protection of property to be included in use of deadly force,” Dotson explained. “We do not. So only in the protection of a human being is deadly force allowed.”
He also said officers are instructed to never put themselves in the position or create a situation where the use of deadly force becomes necessary.
“What does that mean? That means that a police officer standing in front of a car creates a situation where deadly force could be authorized,” Dotson said. “But the officer should take care not to put themselves in that situation that their actions would cause the use of deadly force.”
He said that makes the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department’s policy more restrictive than the U.S. Constitution requires.
Alderman Antonio French, subcommittee chairman, called the meeting a good start.
“It is important for us to be educated on what the policy is first, and then also how it is instructed to new officers,” French said after the meeting. “And then from there we can form better questions about if there are any changes necessary.”
He was surprised to learn that the department’s use of force policy is changed exclusively by the police chief without any other input.
“Now that we have local control of the police department it is important to start making sure that the representative body has some input, or at least in collaboration with the police department, on how policy is created,” according to French.
The Subcommittee on Police Use of Force hopes to make a report before the full Board of Aldermen before the end of the year.
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