By Abi Cole
Weaverville – At the last regular monthly meeting of the Weaverville Town Council, Weaverville Town manager Selena Coffey stated Weaverville Police Chief Ron Davis and his department leaders, along with the town attorney, and herself have been reviewing and revising the Weaverville Police Department’s use of force policy.
The review is to determine the policy’s alignment with the “Eight can’t wait” reform campaign. “I will be sending the Mayor and Town Council the final revised policy for your information and thoughts within the coming weeks,” Coffey said. A national push for the adoption of ‘8 Can’t Wait,’ a campaign to reform policing, has caught the attention of state and local legislators.
The ‘8 Can’t Wait,’ a campaign launched on June 3rd by activist group Campaign Zero aims to reduce police violence by enacting eight policies in precincts across the country. Campaign Zero emerged from the police protests in Ferguson, Missouri.
The eight policies are as follows:
1. Ban chokeholds and strongholds
2. Require de-escalation
3. Require warning before shooting
4. Exhaust all other means before shooting
5. Duty to intervene
6. Ban shooting at moving vehicles
7. Require use of force continuum
8. Require comprehensive reporting
Davis clarified that Weaverville Police has long incorporated each policy. “All of these are something that we have in our policy,” says Davis. “I know that police chiefs in Buncombe County are reviewing their policies as well.” Davis personally does not know of an agency that has not adopted at least one of the policies.
He says that the North Carolina Chiefs Police Association is “on board” with the campaign and hopes that individual agencies across the state address the eight topics.
Policy #5, duty to intervene rule, requires by-standing officers to step in if a colleague is using excessive force and report incidents to supervisors. Minneapolis is among several cities with policies requiring police officers to intervene, a rule neglected by the four officers involved in the arrest of George Floyd. The three bystander officers now face serious repercussions, charged with aiding and abetting second-degree unintentional murder, as well as aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
The national movements surrounding Floyd’s death have drawn much attention to the duty to intervene policy, says Chief Davis. “I think one of the biggest ones now is the duty to intervene. I think that’s kind of one of the more hot topic ones out of those eight. But that’s been in our policy for since I’ve been here. And I’ve been here over a year and a half now, but that’s been our policy for quite some time.”
Policy #7, use of force continuum is, according to Wikipedia, “a standard that provides law enforcement officers and civilians with guidelines as to how much force may be used against a resisting subject in a given situation. In some ways, it is similar to the U.S. military’s escalation of force (EOF). The purpose of these models is to clarify, both for law enforcement officers and civilians, the complex subject of use of force.”
North Carolina officers receive yearly training, required by the state, on differing selected topics. Implicit bias was one component of the service training last year, says Davis. He anticipates a strong shift in focus at the state level towards officer implicit bias training. “There’s going to be a revision in the mandatory state training for law enforcement officers. I can pretty much guarantee that.” Precincts will be taking cue from the governor on training modifications.
Governor Cooper signed Executive Order No. 145 on June 9th to establish a task force to address racial inequality in the state criminal justice system. The task force will “address the structural impact of implicit racial bias while maintaining public safety.
“The Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice will consider and implement strategies to bring about real change in the criminal justice system. For way too long, black people have not been treated equitably in the United States. We have to fix that,” said North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein in a statement released by the office of the governor.