The NYCLU conducted an exhaustive inquiry into the policies of each police department. Through our interaction, we have found that the Syracuse Police Department:
- Has a long way to go in complying with Freedom of Information Law requests in a timely manner. We continued receiving responsive documents more than two years after filing our initial request with the Department.
- Only discusses the standards for stops within the context of its policy prohibiting bias-based profiling. Both concepts are critically important and each deserves more specific attention. The law around police stops and investigative encounters is complex, and officers need more specific guidance as to what they’re actually permitted to do.
- Has a use of force policy that is badly in need of reform. The Department provides almost no guidance to officers on when force is actually authorized, instead just telling officers that they need to be familiar with the requirements of New York law and Supreme Court decisions. The policy does not ban chokeholds and prohibits officers from taking into account the fact that the person they might use deadly force against is a child.
Policy Spotlight: Use of Force
Police officers occupy a unique position in our society, as the law gives them limited authority to use deadly force as part of their jobs. But the law doesn’t have that much to say about specific uses, leaving it to police department policies to fill in the blanks. Syracuse’s use of force policy does not rise to that challenge. The consequences of a bad use of force policy are literally life and death. That’s why it’s so important for departments to give officers the resources, guidance, and training they need to appreciate the limits of their authority. Beyond that, training and department policies need to more clearly recognize the use of force as a last resort and give officers the guidance they need to avoid using force through more effective communication and de-escalation tactics.
You can learn more about the policies by clicking the cards below.
Documents received by July 2017.