The issues surrounding police reform have been pushed to the forefront of national discussion after the police-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May 2020. Many ideas around police services, use of force, and community relations have been discussed; the Pasco Police, along with many community partners, have already made tremendous steps in fostering better relations in the community, as noted in the City Council’s Resolution 3968, passed in June 2020.
Pasco Police gave a detailed report on Community Policing and their Use of Force policy at the June 22 City Council Workshop; watch the presentation here.
Below are just some of the steps the Pasco Police Department has made with the community in the last several years:
- The Department has obtained national accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), and state accreditation from the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC). Accreditation helps to better professionalize local law enforcement by providing a review process for agencies to be certified as operating under industry best practices and standards. The PPD is one of only a handful of agencies in the state to achieve both types of accreditation.
- Implementing other best-practices from police chiefs around the country by having the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) conduct a review of the policies and training program of the Department.
- The Department sought out and underwent recommended training by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS).
- The City and Department, along with the ACLU of Washington and local concerned residents, collaborated on issues concerning police training and use of force, resulting in an extensive update of the Department’s use of force policy.
- The Department has worked with the Pasco Fire Department and local mental health professionals to implement a “Hotspotters” program to bring mental health services to residents in immediate need, including having embedded mental health professionals with patrol officers. The Hotspotters program won a “Municipal Excellence Award” from the Association of Washington Cities in 2019 and was a centerpiece program for the Pasco community to be honored as a national “All-America City” finalist in 2019.
- The Department has implemented a homeless liaison officer program to better connect those experiencing homelessness to services.
- The Department is the first department in the area to deploy body cameras to all patrol officers, and has been using dash cameras on patrol cars since 2000.
- The Department has adopted additional review criteria that will aid in the examination of force and the training of officers in the use of force, including cataloging detailed records of use of force incidents.
- The Department is fully committed to implementing the requirements of Washington State Initiative 940, including having civilian community members as part of an independent team investigating deadly use of force incidents. The PPD continues to participate in the Regional Special Investigations Unit (SIU) to provide outside and independent investigations for major use of force incidents.
- PPD Officers are trained in first aid/CPR, AED, and carry tourniquets and Narcan.
- Improved communication of the process for handling police complaints.
- Publishing all current Police policy documents for public review on the City’s website.
- Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training for officers.
- Participated in the DOJ’s Community Relations Service process.
- Participating in the Latino Civic Alliance’s Community Visioning Project to better connect law enforcement and the community.
- In conjunction with the COPS office to help open lines of communications and problem-solving with community members, the Department has started “Coffee with a Cop". "Coffee with a Cop" brings police officers and the community members they serve together in a neutral and casual setting to discuss issues and learn more about each other.
- The Department was the first agency in the area to implement a citizen academy, and, in 2016, launched a Spanish language academy.
- Implementing social media (Facebook and Twitter) sites that help improve communication with the community; the PPD’s Facebook page has the largest following of any police agency in the state with over 65,000 followers.
- Expanding recruitment efforts, focusing on individuals who appreciate serving and reflect diverse communities. The Department encourages bi-lingual applicants, and has created a bi-lingual civil service recruitment list. The Department continues to offer pay bonuses for officers proficient in Spanish. These efforts have increased the bi-lingual staff by 50% since 2015.
- These efforts by the community have paid off by helping to reduce Pasco’s crime rate by more than 80% since 1990 and cited as one of the safest cities in the state in several different surveys recently.
“…when I think about how far the Pasco Police Department has come in just two years, and how dedicated they are to a model of policing that benefits the community and preserves life, then I know these [police] reforms are possible.”
-Michelle Storms, ACLU of Washington, “Confronting Race and Policing”, 2017
Below are some frequently asked questions regarding the Pasco Police’s Use of Force policy and procedures.