Messages to the Community
As your Police Chief, I believe in transparency, the power of effective listening, and keeping communication open and honest, no matter how challenging. The death of George Floyd at the hands of former Minneapolis police officers has sparked a much-needed conversation about policing in America. The Morgan Hill Police Department has prepared this informational page to acknowledge that we hear your concerns and want to provide you with information on our training policies regarding crucial matters such as Crisis Intervention, De-escalation, Use of Force, and Principled Policing. Principled Policing is at the core of our officer training. It unpacks the concept of procedural justice & presents the concept of implicit bias to strengthen trust between police and communities they serve.
In the days and weeks to come, we will be reviewing and revising this page as it is intended to be a living document. I strongly believe change is a constant and if we are not progressing, we are regressing. I invite you to review our policies and I look forward to engaging in an on-going dialogue at this crucial juncture in our city, state, and nation.
Ban Chokeholds and Strangleholds – These techniques are not permitted in our Use of Force Policy. Furthermore, the use of the Carotid Control Hold has been eliminated from our policy.
Require De-Escalation – De-escalation is already a part of our department’s operations and is documented in the department’s Crisis Intervention Policy. This policy is for crisis intervention, use of conducted energy devices, mental illness, and civil disputes. De-escalation techniques are taught as part of our many continuing professional training topics.
Additionally, SB 230 requires that “officers utilize de-escalation techniques, crisis intervention tactics, and other alternatives to force when feasible.” SB 230 also mandates each policy require officers to conduct all duties in a manner that is fair and unbiased. Additionally, SB 230 requires all officers be trained in alternatives to deadly force and de-escalation techniques.
Require Warning Before Shooting – In the situation of a person fleeing, who an officer reasonably believes will cause death or serious injury if not immediately apprehended, the officer, as it states in our Use of Force Policy, shall where feasible, prior to the use of deadly force, identify themselves and warn that deadly force may be used.
Furthermore, AB 392 states: “where feasible, a peace officer shall, prior to the use of force, make reasonable efforts to identify themselves as a peace officer and to warn that deadly force may be used, unless the officer has objectively reasonable grounds to believe the person is aware of those facts.” This requirement is consistent with federal case law.
Exhaust All Other Means Before Shooting – Our Use of Force Policy requires officers evaluate the use of other reasonably available resources and techniques when determining whether to use deadly force, and deadly force is only used when there is an "imminent" threat of death or serious injury to the officer or another person.
Duty To Intervene and Stop Excessive Force by Other Officers – Our Use of Force Policy mandates intercession by any officer who observes another officer using force that is unreasonable.
Also, SB 230 sets forth a “requirement that an officer intercede when present and observing another officer using force that is clearly beyond that which is necessary, as determined by an objectively reasonable officer under the circumstances.” This provision is consistent with federal law as well
Ban Shooting at Moving Vehicles – While our Use of Force Policy does not completely ban shooting at moving vehicles, officers are discouraged from shooting at a moving vehicle. It is only allowed when the driver poses a deadly threat.
The outright prohibitions in all circumstances does not account for situations where the driver of a vehicle may be threatening death or great bodily injury to others. SB 230 requires “Comprehensive and specific guidelines for the application of deadly force,” which should include guidance on the limited situations that would warrant shooting at moving vehicles.
Require Use-Of-Force Continuum – Continuums do not require officers start with one level of force before moving to another. Our Use of Force Policy requires officers to use the minimum amount of force that reasonably appears necessary given known facts and the totality of the circumstances.
Require Comprehensive Reporting Each Time an Officer Uses Force – Our Use of Force Policy requires all incidents where force was used, be documented and reported to a supervisor. Our department also reports to the State of California Department of Justice, all officer-involved shootings and any other incidents involving a use of force resulting in serious bodily injury.
Moreover, SB 230 already requires “comprehensive and detailed requirements for prompt internal reporting and notification regarding a use of force incident.” Additionally, legislation from 2015 (Assembly Bill 71) requires statewide detailed reporting requirements on serious use of force incidents. SB 230 also requires officers to report excessive force they witness.
As outlined above, the Morgan Hill Police Department has previously incorporated many of these policy concerns. Our department recognizes and respects the value of all human life and dignity, without prejudice to anyone. Furthermore, we acknowledge that vesting officers with the authority to use reasonable force requires monitoring, evaluation, and a careful balancing of all interests, to protect the public welfare.
2019 Use of Force Statistics - We feel it is our duty to protect all human life and we firmly believe in dignity without prejudice to anyone. We strive to exhaust all options before having to resort to the use of force. We are major proponents of crisis intervention techniques, as noted in this section.
In 2019, we responded to 35,833 calls for service. These calls were either received in our public safety dispatch center or officer-initiated calls. Only 10 incidents resulted in use of force by responding officers. No use of force resulted in major injuries or fatalities. The matrix below reflects each instance of use of force by type of force.
Demographics - The Morgan Hill Police Department values diversity and while our hiring process focuses on hiring for character and the qualities that will support our mission and core values, we believe our department should reflect the diversity of the community we serve.
Below is the 2010 Bay Area census demographic data for the city of Morgan Hill & 2019 demographic data on our officers.
Definitions for each race category from the Bay Area Census.