You just can’t make this stuff up.
First, the Wake County Sheriff’s Office in North Carolina banned sunglasses.
Now they’re not going to issue stun guns anymore, instead telling officers to go hands-on.
The announcement came Tuesday, as the department says it’s adjusting its use-of-force policy.
In December, Sheriff Gerald Baker, a Democrat from North Carolina, took office. Since then, he’s had staff members reviewing a number of policies. Several changes were rolled out Tuesday during training sessions for deputies.
Rick Brown is a legal adviser for the sheriff’s office, and said the decision to phase out stun guns, or Tasers, was based on a 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that Taser use may be seen as unconstitutionally excessive force in some circumstances.
They don’t want to risk liability, so the sheriff’s office will simply stop using the devices once their lifespan is up.
Their solution to risking liability is making deputies “go hands-on” with someone who doesn’t comply with commands, Brown said.
“Are they happy about it? Of course not. Who would be?” Brown said after the training session.
But he doesn’t care.
“By the same token, they are willing to do their job. They don’t want to hurt anybody. That’s not their job.”
He said the new use-of-force policy is all about “patience and de-escalation”.
“What’s the person’s problem? Can they be reasoned with? What kind of a threat are they to themselves and the officer?” he asked.
He then made deputies watch dashboard camera video of a New Mexico state trooper shooting at a minivan with children inside when a mother refused to cooperate during a traffic stop.
“[You need to know] all those things to have sufficient facts before using force.”
He said use of force should be a last resort.
“We cannot have law enforcement that the public does not believe that law enforcement does not have integrity, and part of that is proper use of force,” he said.
And yet he’s now removed one of those last resorts from officers.
The training comes after an incident last year involving a former Wake County deputy, who apparently used his K-9 too aggressively.
Cameron Broadwell was fired after pleading guilty last month. He was terminated for failure to discharge his duties in connection with unleashing his K-9 on Kyron Hinton in the middle of a Raleigh street when a delirious Hinton didn’t comply with commands.
“K-9 policy is also in the process of being reviewed and will have significant changes,” Brown said.
In a news conference, Baker said K-9s still play an important law enforcement role, such as searching for lost children or fleeing suspects, but how and when they would be deployed would change.
Another policy the sheriff’s office is changing is how high-speed chases are handled.
In the past, the decision when to initiate and end a pursuit has been in the hands of the deputy chasing a fleeing suspect. That’s no longer the case.
The new policy will put a supervisor in charge of deciding when to give chase. Brown said that’s because a supervisor can more easily take into account factors like the seriousness of the offense the fleeing driver is suspected of, traffic volume, weather conditions and pedestrians.
He obviously ignores the split second decisions that officers often need to make in these cases.
“There have been studies to show that you don’t want somebody who has to concentrate on the driving skills that it takes to pursue somebody to be aware of all these other factors,” he said.
In March, the Wake County Sheriff’s Office issued a memo that deputies are no longer allowed to wear sunglasses when conducting business.
The ban includes wearing them on the top of the head.
The ban does not include when deputies are not conducting official business with the public, such as when they’re driving.