RCPD Accountability: Policy, Training & Leadership
RCPD: An Evidence-Based Policing Agency
"To reduce crime and improve the quality of life for the citizens we serve."
Our mission drives what we do in our service to you. The Riley County Police Department is an evidence-based policing agency that practices community engagement to earn and maintain the trust of our community. Our policy standards and accreditation status demonstrate a clear commitment to procedural justice, ethical policing, community trust, transparency in service, fairness in processes, and consistency in what citizens should expect from a law enforcement agency.
The Riley County Police Department strives to be a premier Kansas Law Enforcement agency by using strategy, innovation, and accountability to collaborate with community partners in solving community harms through the most cost-effective manner possible. While the community's safety and security is the responsibility of all citizens, the police are the only members who are paid to give it their full time and attention. The prevention and reduction of crime and disorder represents the value that the RCPD delivers to the citizens of Manhattan and Riley County.
Why We Do What We Do
RCPD is committed to be both effective in accomplishing its mission and procedurally just in its treatment of all citizens. To ensure continued support of the community, the RCPD strives to be viewed as a legitimate authority. If we are to truly serve our community and treat each citizen in a procedurally just manner, we must first serve each other and ensure every member of the RCPD is treated in an organizationally just manner. As a department, we model service by fostering a caring and supportive culture for our employees so that they are prepared to serve the community in the same manner.
- Who polices the police in Riley County?
The Riley County Police Department recognizes its responsibility to both itself and the public to thoroughly investigate all complaints of misconduct brought against members of the department. To accomplish this task the department has implemented an internal investigation procedure that provides for a diligent and systematic inquiry of complaints received.
The Internal Affairs Investigation results are reported quarterly to the Law Board during public meetings and the annual report is posted on the department’s website here.
The Riley County Police Department has proactively provided this information for several years dating back to 2012. When evidence of criminal conduct is found, it is referred to others law enforcement agencies for investigation.
It is by the internal affair process that complaints are investigated to determine if policy violations occurred. If so, corrective measures are used to ensure quality law enforcement and preserve the community’s confidence in the department. The Riley County Police Department explicitly prohibits any form of biased-based behavior by any of its employees.
If citizens are dissatisfied with the results of a biased-based policing internal investigation they have the option the option of filing a complaint with the Kansas Attorney General’s Office. You can find more information here.
The Attorney General’s Office publishes statistics on the number of biased-based or racial profiling complaints made with every Kansas law enforcement agency. Each agency is required by law to submit this information annually.
The Department's Internal Affairs Office investigates citizen complaints regarding police department personnel or policies. A positive relationship between the police and the public they serve, fostered by confidence and trust is essential to effective law enforcement.
The Riley County Police Department welcomes criticism of the department and valid complaints against its members or procedures. The purpose of the Internal Affairs function is to ensure complete, fair, and impartial investigations of citizen complaints.
The Riley County Police Department was formed in 1974. The founding statutes contained provisions that provide for oversight of RCPD by the Riley County Law Enforcement Agency – what is commonly referred to as the “Law Board.” The Law Board is comprised of seven individuals who represent various constituencies in Riley County.
The Law Board is responsible for the enforcement of law and the providing of police protection and is authorized (in part) to: Appoint and establish the salary and compensation of the Director; Determine the number of personnel positions within the agency; Hear and affirm or revoke the suspension or dismissal of law enforcement officers; Establish salaries for personnel; Authorize the acquisition of equipment and supplies necessary to operate the department; Adopt an annual budget and certify same to the Riley County Board of County Commissioners and Manhattan City Commission; Authorize expenditures; Adopt rules and regulations necessary for the operation of the Department; and perform other duties as provided by law.
The Law Board typically meets at noon in the Manhattan’s City Commission meeting room at 11th and Poyntz on the third Monday of each month, except when that Monday is a legal holiday. In those instances, the meeting is generally held on the following day at noon. Special meetings are also occasionally scheduled and advertised well in advance to address non-routine issues. All members of the public are invited to attend and an opportunity for public comment is scheduled during each meeting. Accommodations are available for individuals with disabilities.
Law Board meetings are live-streamed on our Facebook page here.
- Do Riley County Officers have the opportunity to go to counseling?
The Riley County Police Department offers employee wellness programs to help employees improve their physical and mental health. Among them are the internal Peer Support Program and vendor-provided Employee Assistance Program.
We recognize that employees are the most valuable assets to RCPD and have a direct impact on the success of the agency. The Department is dedicated to having a successful workplace and strives to increase the well-being and productivity of all employees, through the enhancement of all aspects of health.
Peer Support Program: The Riley County Police Department’s Peer Support Program is designed to provide confidential emotional support during and after times of personal or professional crisis to employees and their family members who express a need for assistance. The program promotes trust, allows for anonymity, and preserves confidentiality for all members utilizing the program.
The Peer Support Program participates in the Riley County Police Department’s comprehensive response to an officer-involved shooting, critical incidents, or any other potentially traumatic event.
Peer Support Team Members are required to attend a 40-hour training specific to Peer Support Groups/Programs. They provide emotional support and guidance but do not replace counselors, therapists, or psychologists nor do they replace outreach programs that are available to the department and its employees.
The program is comprised of one program manager, one peer support clinician, and team members consisting of a maximum of 10% of the employee population (presently 12 members). Membership is composed of sworn and non-sworn personnel who are officially designated by the Director after a structured selection process.
Employee Assistance Program: The Riley County Police Department offers an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to all employees and their family members. The program is designed to assist in identifying and resolving a variety of concerns or issues that may adversely affect an employee’s personal or professional well-being or job performance or to simply provide resources to improve an employee’s quality of life. The resource topics offered by the program include wellness, relationships, work and education, financial, legal, lifestyle, and home and auto.
In addition to the above-mentioned programs, the department provides critical incident debriefs to employees following a traumatic event, death or abuse of a child, disfigurement injuries, officer-involved shooting, etc.
RCPD Department Chaplin: The Riley County Police Department Chaplain Program is comprised of professional clergy members who volunteer their services to the department, incarcerated individuals, and members of the community during times of crisis or conflict. Police Chaplains are on-call 24 hours a day to assist police officers with a variety of situations in the field such as death notifications, lost or missing persons, and suicides. With respect to death notifications, the chaplain may stay behind to speak with the family regarding the tragedy and provide resources to help them with funeral arrangements. Police Chaplains may also be requested to assist with crisis intervention, and respond to major incidents/disasters such as multiple injury vehicle accidents and officer-involved shootings. They provide support to RCPD personnel following such incidents or difficult calls. The Chaplains are familiar faces that employees feel they can easily confide in.
Lewis Smith is the primary Chaplain for the RCPD and oversees the program. He and fellow Police Chaplains provide support to employees of RCPD, their families, and those incarcerated.
- What steps are being taken to recruit and retain more Black and Hispanic police officers?
The RCPD is committed to enhancing diversity within the police ranks. This diversity includes not only Black and Hispanic applicants, but also women and other minorities.
If citizens believe in us, we need people in our community to advocate for the police department and join us. We want diversity, we need diversity, we welcome diversity, and we believe diversity will make us an even better department.
We are lucky to have a multicultural community thanks to Fort Riley and Kansas State University. The Riley County Police Department is in the process of building relationships at K-State and Fort Riley with the hopes of giving talks at groups/classes and participating in specialty events. Police, Corrections, and Dispatch attend recruiting events in Manhattan, at K-State, and Fort Riley. We have recently extended our recruiting presence to colleges in Western Kansas in an attempt to recruit and retain Hispanic applicants in an effort to further diversify our department to represent the community we serve.
The Riley County Police Department has recently acquired a food trailer to take to recruiting and community events as a way of making connections with people. The department is in the process of creating a recruiting team which will complement and operate independently of the food trailer depending on the event.
We are aware of the lack of diversity in our patrol division and are examining our hiring process and what can be done to improve our hiring results.
- Our Core Values
The Riley County Police Department holds their employees to a high standard of service to the community and prides themselves on living and working by the following values.
Integrity - Adherence to moral and ethical principles, soundness of moral character, honesty.
Teamwork/Cooperation- Cooperative or coordinated effort on the part of a group or persons acting together as a team or in the interest of a common cause. An act or instance of working or acting together for a common purpose or benefit; joint action.
Initiative - An introductory act or step; leading action; readiness and ability in initiating action; one's personal, responsible decision.
Empathy - The intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.
Reliability - That which may be relied on; dependable in achievement, accuracy, honest, etc.
Judgment - The ability to judge, make a decision, or form an opinion objectively, authoritatively, and wisely, especially in matters affecting action; good sense; discretion.
Professionalism - Professionalism is defined as, "Professional character, spirit, or methods. The standing, practice, or methods of a professional, as distinguished from an amateur."
Loyalty - Loyalty is defined as, "The state or quality of being loyal; faithfulness to commitments or obligations."
- Accredited since 1991
In 1991 the Riley County Police Department became the 1st Nationally Accredited Law Enforcement Agency in Kansas and was the 168th agency nation-wide. Accreditation is a voluntary process that demonstrates a clear commitment for procedural justice, ethical policing, community trust, transparency in service, appropriate organizational culture, fairness, and consistency in what citizens should expect from a law enforcement agency. RCPD is required to meet or exceed national standards put into place to ensure our agency is doing what it should while serving you. Accreditation is highly valued by Law Enforcement professionals and recognized as an achievement of professional excellence. There are different levels of accreditation attainable. The Department elects to strive for Advanced Law Enforcement Accreditation, which means complying with all 461 national accreditation standards that are applicable to our agency.
The Department has maintained its accredited status during on-site assessments conducted in 1990, 1996, 2001, 2003, 2006, 2009, 2012, 2016, and most recently in December of 2019. The Riley County Police Department re-earned its Accreditation in 2020. The following awards have been attained by the Riley County Police Department:
- 2007 Reaccreditation / Meritorious Service
- 2010 Reaccreditation / Meritorious Service & Flagship Agency
- 2013 Reaccreditation / Meritorious Service & Accreditation With Excellence (This is the highest award attainable by CALEA)
- 2016 Advanced Reaccreditation via Gold Standard Assessment / Meritorious Service & Accreditation with Excellence
To learn more about the process of accreditation and our progress, please feel free to contact the Riley County Police Department's Accreditation Manager or the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) at www.calea.org.
On April 18, 2023, the Riley County Police Department became dual-accredited through newly established state of Kansas accreditation.
The Kansas Law Enforcement Accreditation Program (KLEAP) is the official Kansas state accrediting body facilitated by the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center (KLETC).
KLEAP is a voluntary initiative for professional improvement expressing commitment to professional law enforcement practices. State accreditation includes 167 standards.
- Do Riley County officers go through de-escalation training, and how often?
RCPD officers are first introduced to de-escalation training after the police academy at the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center. When they return they attend a basic use of force class where the elements of de-escalation as they pertain to the use of force are discussed. The new officer then practices scenarios where they have to successfully de-escalate a violent subject. Then, annually this type of training is repeated in a number of formats. Currently, RCPD has three (3) verbal de-escalation instructors who train officers on de-escalation during our annual Taser re-certification, annually during defensive tactics, and annually during our reality based-training. Officers will receive de-escalation training in various forms multiple times a year.
All employees, not just the police officers at RCPD, receive annual training in avoiding racial or any other biases regarding protected classes. Interestingly, the State of Kansas lists the following as protected classes from police bias: race, ethnicity, national origin, gender and religion; however, the RCPD has added the following classes as also protected: sexual orientation/identity, socio-economic status, and perceived disability and/or age. When training about racial biases, we train about not being biased toward all of these protected classes. Annually we hold a 2-4-hour training in some format pertaining to both implicit and explicit biases, and how our actions as a policing agency can negatively and positively affect others. Currently, we have three (3) instructors who are certified to teach the Fair and Impartial Policing curriculum which was taught for the training year 2018. Last year we discussed cultural awareness, and how culture leads us to view others differently. In the 2020 training year, we are training Fair and Impartial Policing again, keeping these ideas and philosophies ever-present in our employees' minds.
Police interaction with people within our community suffering a mental health crisis is a daily occurrence. To better serve those people the RCPD has taken the “One Mind Pledge” and has met and exceeded the pledge standards. The One Mind Campaign seeks to ensure successful interactions between police officers and persons affected by mental illness. The initiative focuses on uniting local communities, public safety organizations, and mental health organizations so that the three become "of one mind." To join the campaign, law enforcement agencies must pledge to implement four promising practices over a 12-36-month time frame. These practices include: establishing a clearly defined and sustainable partnership with a community mental health organization, developing a model policy to implement police response to persons affected by mental illness, training and certifying sworn officers and selected non-sworn staff in mental health first aid training or other equivalent mental health awareness course, and providing crisis intervention team training.
To date the Riley County Police Department has:
- Maintained at least one active member on the Riley County Mental Health Task Force
- Maintains Policy 41.2.7 – Response to Mental Health Situations
- Department members trained to teach Mental Health First Aid
- Inserted Mental Health First Aid into the Department's annual training program for police officers, correction officers, and dispatchers.
- Sent nearly 30% of our patrol officers to Crisis Intervention Team training
- Established a Crisis Intervention Team Council that has partnered with the Mental Health Task Force
- Established a Patrol Division Goal to decrease the incarceration of those on mental health crisis by developing alternatives to arrest.
- A strong partnership with Pawnee Mental Health
- Employs two full-time mental health professionals as police co-responders
- Established a 13-member Peer Support Team represented by all the divisions within the Department to help ensure we are meeting our own mental health needs
- A robust Employee Assistance Program
As mentioned above the RCPD has established a Crises Interventions Team Council, the regional council includes several mental health providers and professionals as well as representatives from numerous first responder agencies from Manhattan, Riley County, Kansas State University, and Pottawatomie County. The RCPD is working toward training as many of our officers as possible in crisis intervention through the nationally recognized 40-hour CIT training program. Currently, the Department has about 30% of this goal with our police and corrections officers. We did have a 40-hour CIT training class scheduled earlier this year but it had to be canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We do plan to reschedule this training as soon as the pandemic threat passes.
We mention the One Mind Pledge and CIT in response to your question about de-escalation because the skills learned and the policies and procedures followed focus almost entirely upon de-escalation of any situation. De-escalation techniques are used by our officers prior to, during, and after force of any kind is applied and, in many situations, prevents the need for any physical force. All of our officers are required to complete Mental Health First aid and they work daily with our Mental Health Co-responders. Again, through these resources officers are practice and experience the power of communication to mitigate physical, bizarre, and often violent behavior with little or no force necessary.
- How many hours of “stress training” do Riley County officers go through?
On an annual basis, police officers are required to participate in training scenarios that replicate high-stress situations (approximately 8-10 hours a year). These situations include, but are not limited to:
- Active violence/Active shooter
- Armed people
- Resistive people
- People displaying signs of a Mental Illness
- Sudden attack
- Resistive people who become compliant
- Person/people barricaded inside a residence
The majority of the training consists of classroom instruction followed by officer scenarios. These scenarios are designed to be realistic and activate a physiological and psychological response in the officer. It is common for officers to experience an elevated heart and respiratory rate during the scenarios. By placing officers in these scenarios, we allow them to experience and understand how stressful situations will affect them so they will not be overwhelmed when dealing with a real-life event.
- How long do police recruits ride along with a veteran officer before they are sent out on their own?
A police recruit begins their training by attending a 14-week basic police academy at the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center. After the recruit has successfully graduated from the academy, the recruit begins our agency’s Police Training Officer (PTO) program.
The PTO program is 18-weeks long and focuses on Problem-Based Learning (PBL). The PBL process provides recruits with the skills to solve future problems they will encounter as a police officer. The PTO program consists of two phases (Basic and Advanced). During each phase, the recruit is trained by a RCPD certified police training officer. Throughout the process, the recruit is evaluated by multiple training officers and must successfully complete the program prior to being released to solo patrol.
Once a police recruit has successfully completed the 18-week long PTO program, they are released to a probationary period until they complete their final training project. After completing this final project, the police recruit is released from recruit status and receives a monthly evaluation from their direct supervisor for 12 months.
- Police Training Officer Program
The Police Training Officer Program was developed to train junior members of the organization (recruit officers) how to solve problems within the community. The program is based on national-level research into those competencies that all officers are expected to demonstrate. PTO uses a problem-based learning methodology. Problem-based learning is designed to place the responsibility on the recruit for his/her learning under the facilitation of an experienced officer. During the program, recruits are required to work through problem assignments and contact members of the community.Benefits of the PTO program include:
- Recruits learn about the ways they best learn
- Recruits learn to self-evaluate
- Recruits are required to demonstrate competency in every core area of the program
- Recruits learn about emotional intelligence
- Recruits are trained and then evaluated by different senior officers
- Recruits learn to become problem solvers and value community input throughout their careers
Officers present their Problem-Based Learning Exercises (PBLE) over a hypothetical situations.
Often, our officers are presented with problems in their day-to-day duties that don't have an obvious answer or a predetermined outcome from a manual. PBLEs are ill-structured problems used to prepare officers to think on their feet and find the best outcomes.
Before recruits are released from training, they must complete four PBLEs, two board evaluations, and a Neighborhood Portfolio Exercise (NPE). During an NPE, the officer is assigned to a concentrated area within Riley County and learns about the issues pertaining to the area and how they can help the citizens living there.
- Fair and Impartial Policing
In 2015 the RCPD began training all employees in the principles of Fair and Impartial Policing (FIP). FIP was developed by Dr. Lorie Fridell and includes the development of a Comprehensive Program to Promote Fair and Impartial Policing. FIP addresses the phenomenon of human bias and provides a plan for law enforcement agencies to make positive changes in areas as diverse as policy development to hiring practices. The RCPD has been involved in this continuous process since 2015. All employees receive non-biased training and all are expected to be unbiased in the services they provide to our community irrespective of the assignment.
- Are there any outreach programs for police to connect with the citizens?
The Riley County Police Department has several outreach programs to connect with the citizens of Manhattan to bring about unity. RCPD employees represent the department by attending various committee meetings and serving on boards throughout the community. The list below is not all inclusive but serve as some examples of community outreach programs.
RCPD Community Advisory Board: The CAB represents a cross-section of the Riley County public with members from a variety of business, geographical, and cultural communities. Members are representative of the broad community we live in to be consistent with the diversity in Riley County. The members of the CAB nominate candidates to serve on the board, who are then appointed by the Director of RCPD.
The Community Advisory Board advises RCPD on community concerns and relays information about the RCPD to the public. Effective policing relies on positive relationships with the community we serve. The CAB was established to provide a community perspective to the police department when considering local problems and policies. The group assists in improving the community's understanding of police functions and roles. The CAB advises RCPD on ways to improve the effectiveness of police operations in relation to community needs.
The Community Advisory Board meets monthly to address issues of interest to the RCPD and how they may affect the people of Riley County.
You can learn more about the CAB here: http://www.rcpdcab.org/
LGBTQ+ Liaisons: In 2019, the Riley County Police Department formed the LGBTQ+ liaison team. The RCPD has two officers representing the department as LGBTQ+ liaisons. The liaisons act as a bridge between the police and the community, promoting a positive relationship with people in Riley County while advocating for equality. The LGBTQ+ liaisons are dedicated to increasing public education on hate crimes and public safety.Sergeant Scott Hagemeister(785) 537-2112 x2500
Douglass Center Advisory Board: The Douglass Center Advisory Board makes recommendations to the City Commission regarding the operation of the Douglass Community Center and involvement in community events. Director Butler routinely attends their monthly meetings.
Douglass Center Advisory Board RCPD Liaison
Sergeant Ryan Doehling
Boys & Girls Club of Manhattan: RCPD partners to bring educational presentations and participate in speaking engagements with the Boys & Girls Club of Manhattan. Children are most at risk of participating in and being victims of crime right after school lets out. B&G Club provides a safe and productive place for kids to go during the times when they are most vulnerable.
RCPD Community Outreach BBQ: The Riley County Police Department has made it a priority to get out into the community and be a part of events because together, we are a stronger, safer community. To further a culture of service throughout the organization, the department purchased a barbecue grill/smoker through donated funds, seized assets, and unused end-of-year personnel funds. The goal is to serve food to the community during events and actively participate with the community.
Coffee with a Cop: This is a causal meet-and-greet for members of the Riley County community to provide positive and fun interactions with police. We are hopeful that the program will help reach the section of the community that does not use social media or the internet. These are public meetings held over coffee throughout Manhattan and Riley County. Members of the community with suggestions on where to host future meetings are encouraged to contact the department’s Public Information Officer.
Nextdoor: Nextdoor.com is a free, private social network program where residents work together with the Riley County Police Department and their neighbors for a safer community. The program allows neighbors to talk online, obtain information about crimes in the area, locate missing animals, etc. The Riley County Police Department has partnered with Nextdoor.com to launch a program in the area not only to confront and resolve safety issues within the neighborhood, but also to help bring neighbors together. Other emergency and local government organizations such as the Manhattan Fire Department, Riley County EMS, Riley County Emergency Management, and the City of Manhattan have partnered with RCPD and Nextdoor.com.
The Riley County Police Department uses social media in an effort to keep people informed and educated on local and state laws, current events, and emergency notifications. We encourage our community to engage in meaningful, respectful conversation with us and fellow citizens. We believe social media helps to improve the quality of life by creating a direct method of communication with your police. To create a social environment that is welcoming to all people, as part of our social media policy, all posts or comments containing offensive or perceived to be offensive language will not be allowed.
- Does the Riley County police have plans for a community town hall?
Director Peete regularly attends meetings open to the public of all County governing bodies which include, the cities of Randolph, Riley, Leonardville, Ogden, Manhattan and Riley County. At these meetings, he shares information with those in attendance regarding RCPD operations, answers questions, and fields suggestions. Often these meetings are attended by other operational personnel for the same purpose. In February 2023, Director Peete held several town hall meetings to introduce himself and listen to the community concerns, suggestions and ideas relating to RCPD and safety. All those from each community within Riley County were invited to attend the meetings. The town halls were also live streamed from the RCPD Facebook page facebook.com/RileyCountyPD/.
- Are there events where Riley County officers and civilians can meet each other?
The Riley County Police Department regularly participates in speaking engagements throughout the year. Members of the community who wish to schedule an officer to speak at an event, training, convention, or other gathering are asked to complete a Speaking Engagement and Appearance Request Form which can be found on the Riley County Police Department website. Advance notice is requested to ensure staff is available for the event.
- When an investigation is complete, how does a person get a copy of the police report?
Incident reports are requested and obtained by contacting the Riley County Police Department Records section. You can do this in person, by mail, by phone, or by completing an online request through www.rileycountypolice.org. Please contact Records during business hours with any questions you have regarding the process. The requester must know the approximate date and time or specific incident details to request a copy. Once Records confirms the incident, they will advise how much the records will cost (this all depends on the report size and details), obtain payment (cash, check, or money order), and supply the individual with a redacted copy of the report via in person, email, or fax. To learn more, you can find an informational brochure here.
The Riley County Police Department believes transparency creates trust between our department and the community. We are dedicated to accurate, timely release of information through our Public Information Officer. Each week day, the PIO publishes a Police Activity Report which is a summary of calls for service/ reports filed from the previous 24 hours.
The PIO routinely speaks to members of the public and local media partners about items listed in the Police Activity Report to give additional information as it may be available through the Kansas Open Records Act (KORA). The report is readily available to the public when it is published on the RCPD website and social pages.
- Is the report available to the person immediately once the report is completed and filed?
Once the report is complete by the officer(s), it must be approved by a supervisor and then submitted to Records. Depending on the incident filed and status of the report, Records can supply an individual with basic report details (information that is open to the public) within 1-2 days. Any report or record is subject to KORA however certain information within it may remain closed either by statute or at the discretion of the agency.
- How many officers wear body cameras?
All officers of the Riley County Police Department below the rank of Captain, who are assigned to uniformed operational roles, wear body cameras. Policy states officers are to record all traffic stops, field arrests, pursuits, and encounters with hostile citizens. Officers also have to record situations that have the reasonable possibility of leading to an arrest or a notice to appear in court. Field interviews of victims concerning sensitive matters such as sexual assaults i.e. minimalistic interviews for the purpose of establishing the basis for further investigation and the gathering of basic information in the field, are recorded as well. Officers may also record situations when they believe a video or audio recording of the event would serve the bests interests of the community or the department.
Officers do not routinely record all citizen encounters. Recordings are not made of individuals in areas that are in use for private matters such as restrooms or locker rooms. With regard to medical care facilities, officers are to use discretion when interviewing individuals receiving treatment to prevent embarrassment and/or violation of privacy.
Why not all?
The ranking system in the Patrol Division is listed below:
- Assistant Director
Captain and above to the Director typically work in office settings and are not routinely in the field on police matters that would require the use of body cameras.
- What are Riley County’s guidelines for using lethal force?
A. When an officer reasonably believes that a subject presents no threat to himself or others, the officer will respond with force unlikely to cause injury.
B. When an officer reasonably believes that a subject presents a threat to himself or others likely to cause minor physical injury, the officer may respond to resistance with force likely to cause minor physical injury.
C. When an officer reasonably believes that a subject presents an imminent threat to himself or others likely to cause death or serious bodily harm, the officer may respond with force that could cause death or serious bodily harm.
- Use of Force
The Riley County Police Department has been nationally accredited through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) since 1991. That means RCPD is required to meet or exceed national standards put into place to ensure our agency is doing what it should while serving you.
Accreditation is voluntary and is regarded as best practice because it holds departments to a higher standard. The lawful use of force is a significant part of the CALEA standards.
Police use of force is regulated by state and federal law. Police Officers and law enforcement organizations who break these laws can face criminal and civil penalties. Lawful force must be “objectively reasonable.”
To create and maintain the best policing behaviors to appropriately serve our community, we consider 3 main topics:
- Direct Supervision
Policy/procedures: Violations of policies and procedures are enforced internally through an investigative and disciplinary process. Each year, the RPCD files more complaints internally about employee conduct in general than what we receive from the public.
Training: RCPD officers are given extensive training in the use of force and are expected to follow training guidelines. We reinforce training through role-playing in different scenarios. These scenarios give officers the experiences they need to appropriately respond in the field. Our training staff receives instruction in advanced teaching techniques including some that effectively prepare officers for use-of-force encounters.
Direct Supervision: We require a supervisor to be on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Supervisors receive special training and are required to be in the field during critical incidents. Supervisors review every use of force report. Force found to be unreasonable is referred to Internal Affairs for investigation. If the use of force is lawful, but not consistent with training, that officer receives remedial training.
The RCPD is an evidence-based organization. We use the latest research to determine what is and what is not effective and appropriate. When considering use of force, we annually review our internal data on a large scale to determine a number of things including:
- What trained tactics are used in the field
- Are the tactics effective
- What injuries, if any, were caused to the citizen and the officer
The resulting data is used to create future training.
Below you will find the RCPDs policy tied in with training in reference to common questions regarding the use of force. Our agency hopes to continue dialogue with the public on these topics.
Chokeholds and Strangleholds:
RCPD officers are never trained on any technique which inhibits blood flow to the brain. A choke or stranglehold is prohibited, except where lethal force is authorized.
Officers are trained to use tactics (such as allowing for distance between themselves and a potential threat) which reduces the likelihood that lethal force may be necessary.
RCPD Policy 4.1.2 [3B3]: "Officers are authorized to use any technique or any item as a weapon when faced with what the officer reasonably believes to be a threat of death or serious bodily harm."
De-escalation techniques are trained extensively in exercises. Several training scenarios require officers to use de-escalation techniques in order to successfully resolve the exercise. De-escalation is incorporated into almost every topic we cover during training.
RCPD officers are also trained in Crisis Intervention Training. This training focuses on addressing mental health crises and is used in many situations officers are called to assist in. We participate in a local Crisis Intervention Training council. RCPD operates a Mental Health Co-responder Program comprised of mental health professionals who respond with officers in the field to help people who find themselves in a mental health crisis.
Officers are trained to use tactics (such as allowing for distance between themselves and a potential threat) which reduces the likelihood that lethal force may be necessary.
Our officers have been trained to rely on the elements of procedural justice when making traffic enforcement decisions. This means officers deliver talking points to educate drivers on what they traffic law they broke and discuss locally conducted studies which surveyed local citizens asking them for the top traffic offenses they cared about along with what they believed the RCPD should be enforcing. When RCPD looked at our internal crash data, it was found that the top 5 causes of preventable accidents in Riley County are the same violations that this community expects us to enforce.
Warning Before Shooting
RCPD officers are required to warn before shooting at a fleeing felon when practical. Officers are prohibited from firing “warning shots”. Officers are not required to warn in other circumstances because it is not always practical to do so.
RCPD Policy 4.1.2 [3A2]: "To prevent the escape of a fleeing violent felon who the officer has probable cause to believe will pose a significant threat of death or serious bodily harm to the officer or others unless arrested without delay. Where practicable prior to the discharge of a firearm, officers shall identify themselves as law enforcement officers and state their intent to shoot."
RCPD Policy 4.1.3 : "Warning Shots: Officers are prohibited from firing warning shots."
Officers are also equipped and trained to deploy and use devices that are less likely to be lethal when compared to bullets.
Duty to Intervene
Officers are required to take appropriate actions at all times and to report violations of policy. RCPD officers have been trained through scenarios to intervene when they perceive that another officer is using excessive force. The RCPD is currently considering adding language to the use of force policy which would explicitly require officers to intercede when they perceive inappropriate force is being used. This emphasizes the importance of community conversations about policing and the need for RCPD policy to be a living document. As indicated earlier by the number of internal complaints compared to external complaints, the RCPD has a culture of self-reporting violations.
“K. Failure to Take Appropriate Action:
1) Department members will take action when appropriate and/or necessary in accordance
with policies and procedures.
“EE. Reporting Violations of Policies and Procedures: Department members will report any violations of policies or procedures, whether committed by themselves or another member, to their supervisor on the workday during which the member becomes aware of the violation, or on the member’s next scheduled workday – whichever is first.
Shooting at a moving vehicle
RCPD Officers have been trained to get out of the way of vehicles coming toward them rather than shooting at them. Policy allows officers to shoot at moving vehicles when reasonable.
RCPD Policy 4.1.2 [3B2b}: "Firearms may be discharged to disable a moving vehicle only if exigent circumstances exist."
The Riley County Police Department uses a force model to help guide officers when deciding what level of force is reasonable in response to a subject's resistance and perceived threat level.
The force model is simple, easy to apply/remember, and comports in principle to constitutional law.
RCPD Policy 4.1.2 :
"Force Model: The following force model will be used to guide officers when deciding what level of force is reasonable in response to a subject’s perceived threat level.
A. When an officer reasonably believes that a subject presents no threat to himself or others, the officer will respond with force likely to cause no injury.
B. When an officer reasonably believes that a subject presents a threat to himself or others likely to cause minor physical injury, the officer may respond with force likely to cause minor physical injury.
C. When an officer reasonably believes that a subject presents an imminent threat to himself or
others likely to cause death or serious bodily harm, the officer may respond with force likely to cause death or serious bodily harm."
Our reporting process is extensive and elaborate. Each use of force undergoes six levels of review, and includes the Director. RCPD goes the extra mile by producing an annual report which examines the effectiveness of our force techniques in the filed and acts as a feedback loop to our training programs.
Since this is an extensive policy, a short excerpt is provided below. The introduction states:
“Reporting Use of Force – General: Written use of force reports will be submitted detailing the
circumstances of any incident where Department members respond to resistive and/or aggressive behavior with any technique or method outlined in this policy.”