CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Clarksville Police Department leaders have presented Mayor Joe Pitts with a “top-to-bottom review” of the Department’s processes and protocols regarding arrests, use of force and police-bias prevention.
Mayor Pitts asked for the review this week in the wake of the May 25 death of George Floyd while in the custody of the Minneapolis Police Department. The death by asphyxiation, captured on video, unleashed a torrent of demonstrations across America, with some erupting into rioting and looting.
Mayor Pitts headed to one such demonstration Saturday night along Wilma Rudolph Boulevard after it turned angry and moved out into the street. As police monitored the situation, he and his wife, Cynthia, stood in the road with the demonstrators and listened to their concerns.
“I’m very proud of the job our Police Department did on Saturday night. They set a high standard for excellence and we were able to avoid any escalation,” Mayor Pitts said. “But I wanted a timely review to make sure we are prepared to protect the safety of our community and the civil rights of protesters.”
Police Chief Al Ansley, who is retiring June 30 after 13 years as chief and 33 years with the department, and his successor, Deputy Chief David Crockarell, said the department is well prepared because of its commitment to accreditation, advanced training and modern technology, such as body-worn cameras.
In 2007, Ansley began a push for the department to obtain a national accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). His efforts came to fruition in 2010 when the department received its initial accreditation. The department is on track to receive its fourth CALEA certification in 2020. Only 7 percent of law enforcement agencies nationwide are CALEA accredited.
According to the review presented to the Mayor on Monday, here is how the CALEA standards impact the department’s readiness.
CALEA requires the department to have written directives and general orders available to all personnel. Directives are reviewed annually by the accreditation manager, the chief and the deputy chief, and also maintained on a computer drive for easy access by the entire force.
Use of Force
CALEA has 15 standards in reference to use of force. While some are related to training and proficiency of firearms, most are dedicated to protecting citizens, officers and the City.
The first Use of Force General Order was signed by Chief Ansley in 2008. It is reviewed annually or when there is a major development, such as the Ferguson uprising in 2014, and has been revised eight times. Some of the major changes have been:
Authorization for use of the Conducted Electrical Weapon was raised to the resistance level of Assaultive Behavior.
In 2017, after the President’s 21st Century Policing Report, the Use of Force Model was changed from a step model to a circular model to confirm that sometimes a lower level of force may be used as well as a higher level of force.
De-escalation was added to the policy.
Chokeholds and hog-tying were prohibited as a restraining technique. The use of a chokehold is only authorized at the resistance level of death or serious bodily harm, which is the same authorization level as the use of a firearm.
For transparency, CPD submits its Use of Force data into the CALEA Information System annually.
Additionally, the policy says officers have a duty to intervene when they see another officer using force in violation of the policy, and officers are required to render the appropriate medical aid after any use of force.
In 2019 as part of the Body Worn Camera Grant process, the policy was changed to mandate an on-scene supervisor conduct a preliminary investigation of any use-of-force injury requiring medical treatment.
The CPD policy also requires that any deadly force incident is investigated by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and reported to the District Attorney, who determines if charges are warranted.
Biased Policing/Racial Profiling
CALEA requires CPD to have a written directive governing biased policing that must include:
A prohibition against biased-based policing.
Initial training and annual training for officers in bias issues.
A documented annual administrative review of agency practices including citizen complaints of bias and corrective measures taken.
Based upon recommendations in the President’s 21st Century Policing Report, CPD chose to implement a Traffic Stop Memo, which is used to document an officer’s actions when a traffic stop is made but doesn’t result in an arrest or citation.
CPD reviews all Bias Based Policing data required in the CALEA annual administrative review quarterly, even though the standard requires only annual analysis.
CPD also implemented a state-mandated policy prohibiting racial profiling in 2015.
Mandatory CALEA Analysis
Maintaining CALEA accreditation also requires the CPD to annually review and report several accountability measures. These include:
All use-of-force reports.
All employee grievances.
The department’s recruitment plan and its efforts to mirror the community’s racial demographics.
All pursuits of motor vehicles.
“I appreciate this report from Chief Ansley and Deputy Chief Crockarell,” Mayor Pitts said. “It shows the community that our police force is well-trained to high professional standards and is subject to rigorous reviews by an independent agency.”