Greenville Police Chief changes “use of force” policy in wake of national outcry

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Greenville’s Police Chief is making changes to how his officers use force in the field. A brand new policy is now on the books aiming to preserve the sanctity of life and reduce the number of incidents across the department.

In the wake of national outcry over acts of police brutality, Chief Ken Miller is putting out a more tempered message.

“It is not the police department’s will, it’s not our mission, it’s not our pleasure to take life from anyone,” said Miller. “What we set out to do is make that policy much clearer and much more straightforward.”Greenville Police Department Use of Force Policy

In 18 pages, the policy takes a defined approach to de-escalating situations called the “force continuum.”

“You’ll see the emphasis on de-escalation. Trying to create time and distance which creates a measure of safety for our employees and the person that they’re engaging,” Miller explained.

The stair step method only allows lethal force in the most life threatening of circumstances and only after all other methods have been tried.

“Lethal force is only justifiable when an officer is facing a deadly threat. I mean, period,” Miller explained.

Miller pointed to a 2013 incident at a Greenville motel. He said a Greenville drug cop fired into a moving vehicle that he claimed was driving toward him. The officer wasn’t charged, claiming he feared for his life, but was later fired for defying department standards.

“By the time he drew and discharged his firearm, it was no longer a lethal threat, or at least in two of the three shots that were discharged, if not all three,” said Miller. “When it doesn’t pass the policy provisions we have to act on that.”

Miller said the new policy is much more transparent, cutting through the gray area as much as possible. Still, he said they have to have the cooperation of the public.

“We want to respect and value life. We need that same respect for us as well,” said Miller.

Miller said they want the public to hold them accountable, but added that it is best to comply with the officer’s authority in the midst of a situation and question later in order to avoid unnecessary conflict.

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