Ordinances call on police to report misconduct, avoid use of neck restraints and deadly force
ATLANTA – At their June 17, 2020 meeting, Fulton County Commissioners approved legislation requiring officers working for three Fulton County law enforcement agencies (Fulton County Police, Fulton County Marshals, and the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office) to avoid the use of neck restraints of suspects and deadly force against suspects. The legislation also calls on officers to report incidents of police misconduct they witness. The ordinances were sponsored by Fulton County Commission Vice-Chairman Marvin S. Arrington, Jr. and co-sponsored by Commissioners Natalie Hall, Bob Ellis, and Joe Carn.
“Recent events in our nation as well as right here in our community have highlighted the need to provide clear guidelines to our officers about the behavior we expect from them during the course of their jobs,” says District 5 Commissioner and Fulton County Commission Vice-Chairman Marvin S. Arrington, Jr. “While we need police to protect and defend our communities, we also insist upon accountability on those who take the oath to protect and serve.”
The legislation regarding the use of deadly force calls on Fulton County’s Chief of Police, Sheriff, and Marshal to reinforce and create policies, training, practices, and a culture which support the de-escalation of the use of force. Officers are asked to modify their levels of force in relation to the amount of resistance offered by suspects. The legislation goes on to suggest that “the use of deadly force be limited to only those situations where a suspect has committed or is in the process of committing a felony involving the infliction or threatened infliction of serious physical injury or death; and the escape of the suspect would pose an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to the officer or to another person.”
The same three Fulton County agencies are also urged to refrain from use of neck restraints (or “chokeholds”) to subdue criminal suspects. Incidents of the use of this technique by these agencies would be thoroughly investigated, and if they violate the letter or spirit of the law, would result in punishment up to and including termination of employment, recommendation of loss of law enforcement certification, and reporting of potential criminal activity to the Fulton County District Attorney. None of these three Fulton County agencies had a policy on chokeholds prior to this legislation.
Fulton County law enforcement agencies are also encouraged by the Board of Commissioners to report “each and every incident of potential misconduct, including but not limited to the use of excessive force and the potential violation of any law to their superior officers as soon as possible.”
The legislation also seeks to encourage cities in Fulton County to adopt similar measures regarding the actions of their law enforcement officers and calls on the Georgia General Assembly to enact laws dealing with deadly force, neck restraints, and police misconduct.
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