The tragic events pertaining to the officer-involved shooting in the Borough of East Pittsburgh have highlighted the necessity for up-to-date Use of Force and Hiring Policies. It is paramount that municipalities ensure that their police officers are familiar with the Police Department’s Use of Force Policy, and further, that municipalities review their current Policies to ensure they line up with applicable law. To that extent, we recommend that all municipal officials involved in the oversight and direction of the Police Department, including but not limited to, Mayors, Chiefs of Police, and those Councilmembers, Supervisors and Commissioners sitting on the Municipality’s Police or Personnel Committees, meet to review the municipality’s existing Use of Force Policy and determine what, if any, revisions are needed. It is also important that the appropriate municipal officials ensure that all police officers have received a copy of the Policy. All officers should be instructed to review the Use of Force Policy prior to their next scheduled shift, and sign off on a receipt indicating that they have read and understood the Policy.
In addition, it is recommended that all municipalities conduct an internal review of the police officer hiring process. At a minimum, as the ultimate hiring authority, the municipal Council or Board of Supervisors/Commissioners must be aware of the qualifications and employment history of each officer who is recommended for hiring. If an injured party brings a lawsuit against the Municipality for an injury suffered as a result of police misconduct, the municipality’s exposure could be lessened by taking these steps now.
The municipal attorneys at Maiello, Brungo, & Maiello are prepared to answer any questions you may have related to your municipal Police Department’s Policies and Procedures, as well as your municipality’s hiring practices.