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Barnegat Police Analyze 2013 Use-of-Force Incidents

Records compiled by Barnegat Township’s Police Department indicate nine uses of force over the span of 10,573 incidents requiring police response in 2013. It’s one of numerous findings issued by the department as a requisite of the national accreditation won in 2011.

The Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) maintains 479 rigorous  requirements aimed at raising standards of professionalism in law enforcement.

Barnegat’s police became the first municipal department in Ocean County to meet all requirements of public accountability, community relations, internal organization, safety procedures, and preparedness.

The information below was summarized by Lieutenant Keith Germain:

“In 2013 Barnegat Police Department officers responded to 10,573 calls for service and made 782 arrests. Officers used force in only 9 of those arrests (1.15% of all arrests). In addition to arrests, reportable force was used during interaction with 5 emotionally disturbed persons, and on 3 aid calls, bringing the total number of incidents during which force was used to 17 (0.16% of all calls for service). This represented a 52% decrease in the use of force rate versus 2012. Officers are required to report any use of force that exceeds routine or procedural physical contact (such as guiding a subject into a police car, handcuffing a subject, maneuvering a subject for a frisk, etc).

There were 34 individual types of force used by officers who were involved in the use of force incidents. 25 involved the use of compliance holds (lowest level of reportable force), 5 involved hand/fist strikes, 2 involved feet/kicks, and 2 involved the use of pepper spray. There were no uses of force involving expandable batons, police canine, or discharge of firearms during 2013. State law and associated use of force guidelines require officers to use the least amount of force reasonably necessary to accomplish a lawful objective. Barnegat Police’s adherence to this mandate is statistically evident as 74% of all force incidents were resolved with the lowest level of reportable force.

All use of force incidents were documented and underwent a thorough administrative review as part of agency policy. All uses were found to be in accordance with agency policy as well as state and federal law.

There was one allegation of excessive use of force made to the Professional Standards Unit. The case was investigated and the officer was exonerated after evidence conclusively showed that the force used was justified.

Barnegat officers are provided extensive use of force training that exceeds best practices and far exceeds what is required by law. Our belief is that our ability to conduct nearly 800 arrests while maintaining a historically low use of force rate is a direct result of the high level of training provided by the agency in conjunction with the skill and professionalism of our officers.”

You can learn more about the Commission at the CALEA web site.

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