Summary: The deaths of George Floyd and several others have made it clear that, in many jurisdictions, police use of force is out of control. The Police Use of Force Act limits law enforcement officers, requiring them to use no more force than necessary and proportionate for legitimate police purposes.
Use of force generally is based on Maryland HB 670 (2021); use of deadly force is based on District of Columbia Act 23-336 (2020)
See also PLI’s model Neck Restraint Prohibition Act, No-Knock Search Warrant Prohibition Act (Breonna’s Law) and Demilitarization of Police Act.
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE
This Act shall be called the “Police Use of Force Act.”
SECTION 2. PURPOSE
This law is enacted to protect the health and safety of all people from the unnecessary or disproportionate use of force by police.
SECTION 3. POLICE USE OF FORCE
After section XXX, the following new section XXX shall be inserted:
(A) DEFINITIONS—In this section:
1) “Deadly force” means any force that is likely to cause death or serious physical injury.
2) “Police officer” means a sworn law enforcement officer of the state or any subdivision of the state [and/or cite existing law].
3) “Serious physical injury” means extreme physical pain, illness, or impairment of physical condition, including injury that involves:
a) A substantial risk of death;
b) Protracted and obvious disfigurement;
c) Protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member or organ; or
d) Protracted loss of consciousness.
(B) POLICE USE OF FORCE GENERALLY
1) A police officer shall not use force against a person unless, under the totality of the circumstances, the force is necessary and proportional to:
a) Prevent an imminent threat of physical injury to the officer or another person; or
b) Effectuate a legitimate law enforcement objective.
2) A police officer shall cease using force as soon as:
a) The person on whom force is used is under the officer’s control or no longer poses an imminent threat of physical injury or death to the officer or to another person; or
b) Such force will no longer accomplish a legitimate law enforcement objective.
3) A police officer shall:
a) When time, circumstances, and safety allow, take steps to gain compliance and de-escalate conflict without using physical force;
b) Intervene to prevent or terminate the unauthorized use of force by another officer;
c) Render basic first aid to a person injured as a result of use of force by police and promptly request appropriate medical assistance; and
d) Fully document all use of force incidents that the officer observed or was involved in.
4) Each law enforcement agency shall:
a) Have a written policy for de-escalation of force;
b) Have a written policy requiring supervisory and command-level review of all incidents of police use of force; and
c) Require use of force training for all police officers, including when and how to de-escalate conflict and use tactics that are less likely to cause serious physical injury.
(C) POLICE USE OF DEADLY FORCE
1) A police officer shall not use deadly force against a person unless:
a) Deadly force is immediately necessary to protect the officer or another person from the threat of serious physical injury.
b) All other options to the use of deadly force have been exhausted or do not reasonably lend themselves to the circumstances.
c) The officer’s actions are reasonable given the totality of the circumstances, which circumstances shall include:
i) Whether the subject of the use of deadly force possessed or reasonably appeared to possess a firearm or other deadly weapon which could immediately inflict serious physical injury upon the officer or another person;
ii) Whether the subject of the use of deadly force refused to comply with the officer’s lawful order to surrender an object which reasonably appeared to be a firearm or other deadly weapon;
iii) Whether the officer engaged in de-escalation measures prior to the use of deadly force, including taking cover, waiting for back-up, trying to calm the subject, or using non-deadly force prior to the use of deadly force; and
iv) Whether any conduct by the officer prior to the use of deadly force increased the risk of a confrontation resulting in deadly force being used.
2) A police supervisor shall respond to the scene of any police use of force which caused serious physical injury and gather evidence, including all known video recordings of the incident.
1) A police officer who knowingly violates this subsection is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to imprisonment not exceeding 10 years.
2) A sentence imposed under this subsection may be separate from and consecutive to or concurrent with a sentence for any crime based on the act establishing a violation of this subsection.
3) A person may seek relief by filing with any court of competent jurisdiction a civil action for damages arising out of the use of force by a police officer in a manner inconsistent with this subsection, however, such person is not limited to or precluded from pursuing any other legal remedy by proceeding under this subsection.
SECTION 4. EFFECTIVE DATE
This law shall become effective on July 1, 202X.