IM this article to a friend!

December 20, 2002

Police board OKs new conduct rules for cops

From: Detroit News, MI - 20 Dec 2002

Manual gives guidelines for Detroit officers on chases, use of force

By David G. Grant / The Detroit News

DETROIT -- The Detroit Board of Police Commissioners voted unanimously Thursday to approve new guidelines that spell out how police officers are trained, and how they conduct themselves when dealing with the public.

The new 1,000-page manual addresses how and when officers should fire their weapons, and how they should act during arrests and police chases. Other changes, which include rules for how officers should deal with handicapped, mentally ill and homeless citizens, represent the first changes to the department's general orders in 30 years.

Police Chief Jerry Oliver promised more changes on the horizon.

"The new policy changes were long overdue," Oliver said. "In the future, more changes will be made, guidelines will be expanded, (with) more extensive training for police officers."

The new guidelines and training for officers come as the 4,200-member force remains under a federal investigation that began in December 2000. The investigation began because of questionable shootings by police officers, including one of a deaf man who was threatening officers with a garden rake, missing drug evidence and mistreatment of prisoners and witnesses.

Oliver was hired this year by Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick with orders to clean up the Police Department.

The city has paid out $123 million in 13 years stemming from successful lawsuits against officers and officials who broke the rules.

The new guidelines adopted Thursday will establish:

* Tighter rules regarding use of force. Officers are now prohibited from shooting at suspects in moving vehicles, which was allowed under the old guidelines.

* A new domestic violence policy that provides more training for officers to deal with disputes between family members. The old rules didn't require officers to receive any domestic violence training. The new policy will call for Detroit officers to abide by state laws when dealing with domestic violence situations, a provision not previously included.

* A stricter policy regarding when officers may initiate car chases. The new rules require officers to exercise better judgment when deciding whether to carry out high-speed car chases of suspects. The new guidelines mandate officers put a special emphasis on citizen safety.

* New guidelines outlining how officers deal with mentally ill and homeless citizens. The new policy will require police to undergo more training to learn the special needs of mentally ill or homeless citizens. Under the old policy, officers had only a few hours' training on this issue in the police academy.

* More training for communicating with and handling citizens and suspects who are deaf or hearing-impaired. Officers will be trained by professionals in order to learn how to better communicate with them.

You can reach David G. Grant at (313) 222-2696 or

Copyright © 2002 The Detroit News.