2020 has been a challenging year so far, to say the least. For the past few months, we have experienced a worldwide pandemic. COVID-19 has required us to make adjustments in our daily life. We are wearing masks, frequently washing our hands, sanitizing and disinfecting our spaces, and maintaining at least six feet of physical distance between ourselves and others. We take these steps to protect our loved ones and our neighbors.
This summer we also have witnessed a renewed call for ending systemic racism. Individuals across the country – including right here in Brentwood – have gathered to raise awareness of police actions involving deadly force used against people of color.
As groups have come together to protest and to rally, to draw attention to inequality and to demand change, I have received messages inquiring about the Brentwood Police Department. Some inquiries have referenced “8 Can’t Wait,” a project by Campaign Zero with a goal to improve police use-of-force outcomes and community safety. These are the eight recommendations outlined through “8 Can’t Wait”:
- Ban chokeholds and strangleholds
- Require de-escalation
- Require warning before shooting
- Exhaust all other means before shooting
- Duty to intervene and stop excessive force by officers
- Ban shooting at moving vehicles
- Require use-of-force continuum
- Require comprehensive reporting each time an officer uses force
The Brentwood Police Department incorporates all eight of these recommendations in its general orders, procedures and training.
In fact, the Brentwood Police Department is committed to continuous improvement and to ensuring that use-of-force policies and practices reflect national best practices in law enforcement. Such best practices are set forth through the department’s accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA).
In 2016, the Brentwood Board of Aldermen authorized a complete review of the Brentwood Police Department by an outside company – the Center for Public Safety Management (CPSM). CPSM conducted a thorough review and identified areas for improvement. The Department subsequently addressed the areas identified for improvement.
In May 2019, the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) awarded the Brentwood Police Department international accreditation. CALEA is considered the "Gold Standard" of best practices in law enforcement and public safety. To achieve accreditation an agency must comply with 189 CALEA standards – rigorous standards for procedures, practices, policies and community involvement, among other areas. CALEA accreditation is reviewed annually.
The Brentwood Police Department continually works to provide the highest possible professional policing service. Brentwood officers regularly complete training in firearms, in applying state and local laws, and testing that involves knowledge of a scope of topics like racial profiling and recognizing and responding to individuals with mental illness.
Earlier this month, after nearly two years of research and testing, the Brentwood Police Department launched its body-worn camera program. Officers will be required to activate cameras when engaging in patrol duties, such as crimes in progress, vehicle stops, searches and arrests. Body-worn cameras are meant to aid our officers in their mission to perform law enforcement duties fairly and impartially and to enhance transparency within the community they serve.
This is an additional step in ensuring our police department meets the high standards and expectations of our community.
As we face these challenging times together, I continue to listen, learn and reflect. Please continue to be good to each other, to practice the safety precautions that will help ease the pandemic, and to ask questions so we can seek and provide answers, all to the benefit of our community.