Police Chief discusses use of force policy


Officers also demonstrated a taser

CENTER — Center Police Chief Dale Meek talked about the department’s “use of force policy” during his monthly Coffee with the Chief meeting. The meeting, which is open to all members of the community, opened with freshly brewed coffee and snacks.

Meek began the meeting by asking the people in attendance if they had any questions or concerns regarding the town and law enforcement. Some community members brought up loud music being played within their neighborhoods. Meek explained that music complaints are handled under a Town of Center Ordinance and that loud music is to be off after dark or will be addressed if a complaint is called into the police department.

After the question-and-answer session, Meek explained the Center Police use of force policy. The policy is specific to Center and is based on state law and federal code. The policy must conform to these standards and that Lexipol, a law enforcement-based system, helps the town follow all the necessary guidelines for a proper policy. Use of force is governed by Supreme Court case law and is based on a reasonableness standard.

The reaction to a suspect and the use of force upon a suspect, is determined by policy, officer training and officer experience. Meek explained how use of force is viewed and judged stating, “It’s not through my eyes, it’s not through your eyes. It is through the eyes of the officer who is there, their Guadaramma training and experience.”

He went on to explain that each officer has differing amounts of experience, training and abilities. Each use of force situation is unique and needs to be viewed that way. After the discussion, the chairs were pulled away, mats were set up and a demonstration of the taser, a less lethal device, was given.

Officer Christian Guadaramma volunteered to be “tased” in front of the group.

Before the demonstration, a taser “probe” was passed around for the attendees to view. It looks like a small silver cylinder with tiny fishhook style ends that attach to the person.

The taser device is deployed with a mechanism that fires two probes attached to wires, which strikes the suspect. This creates an electrical closed loop and the device delivers an electrical current through the wires to incapacitate the person. This electrical current, which is 5 seconds long, makes the muscles seize between the two connection points of the probes and thus the person is incapacitated.

After setting up safely, Sgt. Aaron Fresquez deployed the taser on Guadaramma. First there was a loud pop as the cartridge fired, followed by the sound of electrical current. Guardaramma’s muscles seized, and he was lowered to the mats by the officers assisting in the demonstration.

The muscle contractions created by the taser are described as extremely painful. This pain compliance can help to end a violent reaction by the suspect, and therefore less force would need to be used by the police.

After the completion of the demonstration, Meek and Fresquez fielded questions regarding the device. The next Coffee with the Chief will be in August, the date to be announced later on the Center Police Facebook page.

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