In light of national events, Granite Shoals Police Chief Gary Boshears provided a public overview of the department’s use of force policy to inform citizens how officers are expected to handle public interactions.
“We have ongoing conversations about current events,” Boshears told the council at the June 9 regular meeting held via video teleconference.
He said he believes the department’s policies are “in a very good place” and “more than sufficient to prevent incidents similar to those currently in national news.”
GSPD’s policy is modeled on the Texas Police Chief’s Association guidelines for use of force. One of the key aspects of the policy is the emphasis on community-oriented policing, which Boshears said the department is “very committed” to providing.
Community-oriented policing is a strategy of law enforcement that focuses on creating and maintaining relationships with citizens to build a foundation of trust in the police department.
Boshears reviewed several highlights of the department’s use of force policy including:
• A list of prohibited actions by officers;
As the policy states, officers are expected to use the “minimum amount of force necessary” at all times. The use of conducted electrical weapons (known colloquially as a Taser TMafter application of handcuffs is prohibited; the use of “archaic restraints” such as “hog-tying” is prohibited; the use of choke holds or other neck restraints is prohibited.
Boshears said the department also added an amendment that states if an individually is forcefully taken to the ground, they should be returned to an upright position after handcuffs are applied and emergency medical services must be notified.
GSPD uses no rubber bullets or other “impact rounds.”
• Use of body cameras and dash cameras by every officer and in every vehicle;
Boshears said the department requires activation of cameras any time officers come into contact with the public. The policy has been extended to code enforcement officers and animal control officers.
Recordings are stored for 120 days when no arrest was made and indefinitely on a server if any force was used.
• Supervisor review of camera footage showing use of force.
Boshears said every incident of use of force by officers is reviewed by the patrol sergeant, captain and the chief of police for compliance of policy.
He added that officers found to be in violation of the policy will be subject to “appropriate disciplinary measures.”
Boshears also pointed out that the department was “one of the first agencies in the area” to implement de-escalation training and body cameras.
Following his presentation, Boshears said the department will be providing officers to assist the city of Marble Falls on Saturday, June 13 during the planned Black Lives Matter protest (see story on Page 1).