Orlando Police Department solidifies no chokehold policy, bans no-knock warrants

Policies confirmed during virtual meeting Monday

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Orlando Police Department on Monday outlined and reaffirmed its no chokehold policy and introduced its ban on no-knock warrants.

In a tweet, department officials said they “moved forward to ensure fair & equal treatment of all. We reaffirmed our commitment to existing policies, and also to new policies that are being implemented, so officers have improved training & techniques for future interactions with the community.”

About a month before Monday’s virtual meeting, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer told News 6 that while policy did not spell it out verbatim, chokeholds were never allowed to be used by OPD officers.

“We do not train chokeholds,” Dyer told News 6 then. “We may not specifically say that in the policy, but we’re going to say that in policy.”

Photo courtesy Orlando Police Department
Photo courtesy Orlando Police Department (Copyright 2020 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

No-knock warrants, a tactic that, according to Cornell Law School, involves “police officers to enter certain premises without first knocking and announcing their presence or purpose prior to entering the premises,” were also banned at Monday’s meeting,

No-knock warrants were placed under specific scrutiny after such a warrant resulted in the death of Breonna Taylor, who was shot by police after they entered her Louisville home while conducting a narcotics investigation on March 13. No drugs were found at her home.

Photo courtesy Orlando Police Department
Photo courtesy Orlando Police Department (Copyright 2020 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

Other policies instituted by OPD during Monday’s virtual meeting included the following details given in a presentation by Orlando Police Chief Orlando Rolón:

  • Requiring de-escalation - “Strengthened our existing policy to emphasize our de-escalation techniques. As part of our response to resistance process, we added a review of whether the appropriate de-escalation techniques were utilized.”
  • Requiring warning before shooting - “Although this was already in our training, we added language to our existing policy to emphasize that an officer must issue a verbal warning if it is safe and practical under the circumstances.”
  • Requiring officers to exhaust all alternatives before shooting - “Response to Resistance Continuum Guideline Appendix A requires officers to exhaust all other alternatives, including non-force and less-lethal force options prior to resorting to deadly force. We also enhanced existing policy to reflect that any non-deadly force alternative that can safely resolve the situation should be utilized before deadly force is authorized.”
  • A duty to intervene - “It shall be the duty of every employee present at any scene where force is being applied, to either stop or attempt to stop another employee when force is inappropriately used or no longer required.”
  • A ban on shooting at moving vehicles - “This is in our policy: Police are prohibited from discharging their firearms.”
  • Requiring the use of the force continuum - “OPD’s use-of-force guidelines are one of the strongest in Florida. It’s a list of options designed to control each employee’s response to resistance.”
  • Requiring comprehensive reporting - “A supervisor must complete an investigation and report in defined circumstances.”

Dyer said that going forward, OPD and the city will continue to examine police policy.

“We will look at some additional things related to traffic stops, procedures related to that - we are excited to be getting a new training system in this month related to de-escalation,” Dyer said. “But I think it’s important to know that these policies are in place for the Orlando Police Department.”

During the virtual meeting, the police chief was asked about diversity on his force and said its a topic he’s well aware of.

“If there is one concern at the Orlando Police Department, it’s the lack of representation or implementation of Black individuals in the community in law enforcement, and it’s not only a concern for today but it’s a concern for 5, 10, 15 years from now,” Rolón said.

The city of Orlando’s website addresses how the police department complies with those recommendations at this link.

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