DES MOINES, Iowa – KWWL News 7 in Waterloo, Iowa, first reported that the Waterloo Police Department posted an updated use of force policy on their website. The document was first issued in 2018 but updated on June 4 after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The policy was signed by Dr. Joel Fitzgerald, Sr., the brand new police chief for the Waterloo Police Department on Tuesday, who recently served as the Chief Deputy of the City/County of Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office in Pennsylvania. Fitzgerald served as the chief for the Ft. Worth, Texas Police Department before that.
Waterloo saw peaceful protests after Floyd’s death, but also saw civil unrest last Wednesday when a group temporarily blocked traffic at Highway 63 and Highway 218, occupied a vehicle that faced the wrong way. One member of the group threw a rock damaging a police vehicle. They were dispersed with gas. Five residents of Waterloo were arrested.
The updated policy reads, “A reverence and respect for the dignity of all persons and the sanctity of all human life shall guide all training, leadership, and direction, and shall guide all officers in the use of force.”
The policy says officers must “immediately intervene to stop any unreasonable application or use of disproportionate force.”
They are also required to report acts of misconduct.
The policy highlights include:
- A closed fist or punch is not considered a distraction strike.
- Kettling, an aggressive containment tactic for large groups, is unauthorized during peaceful protests or incidents of passive non-compliance, or when the police can’t distinguish bystanders from those who can be legally arrested.
- Choke-holds, vascular neck-restraint/carotid restraint techniques, and positional Asphyxia are unauthorized uses of force.
The policy also states that “(t)he type and degree of force used must be objectively reasonable based on the totality of the circumstances and facts of each case.”
When safely possible, the use of force policy also requires officers to utilize de-escalation techniques before moving to a higher level of force.
The policy also states that batons may not be used on a person’s head. Also, batons, OC spray, and tasers may only be used “on an active aggressive or violently resisting person” or to protect themselves or others “from an imminent or immediate threat of physical harm, serious injury, or death.”
Read the full policy below: