Questions on Lawrenceville Police Department Policies or Training?

What are the Lawrenceville Police Department policies and hiring processes?

Following the recent demonstrations across our nation, we have received numerous questions about our police department’s policies on use of force and hiring practices. We have been inundated with the suggestion that police departments should enact policies supported by a popular "8 Can’t Wait" message that has been popularized online.  We are sharing some of those questions with their answers here:

Does the Lawrenceville Police Department administer psychological exams and polygraphs during their hiring process?

Part of the police candidate hiring process includes an intensive psychological exam administered by an outside source.  The police department also has a third party that administers a polygraph examination.  These two steps commonly disqualify police candidates during the hiring process.  The department also conducts an extensive background investigation of a candidate’s work history.

Are officers required by policy to disclose or reveal that a fellow officer is violating policy, violating the law, or violating citizens’ rights?

Within our department’s policy, yes, there is policy that dictates officers and employees of the department who observe such violations shall report them to their supervisors or Command Staff immediately, especially in instances where the violator may be a supervisor.  Our employees are also liable for failing to act when they observe violations.

Chokeholds, strangleholds, shooting at moving vehicles, warning before using deadly force, use of force continuum, and exhausting all alternatives before using deadly force: Does our department have this in its policy?

These questions present complex answers.  Choking, strangling, and the use of neck restraint techniques are not forbidden by our policy but are restricted to being only used in dire circumstances where an officer would need to escalate his/her level of force to defend themselves or a third party from serious imminent harm or death.  In defensive tactics training, the neck and groin of a person are primarily not targeted.  To understand why this use of force is not strictly forbidden, readers should research the United States Supreme Court Case (1989) Graham v. Connor.  This same United States Supreme Court case is also the reason that many departments, for over a decade now, no longer require a Use of Force Continuum or require exhausting all use of force options before escalating to the use of deadly force.  The same considerations apply to warning a person before shooting and banning shooting at moving vehicles: if an officer is suddenly fired upon by someone in a motor vehicle on a traffic stop, it is not feasible or practical for an officer to give a warning or exhaust all force options before using deadly force as a suspect takes the officer’s life and/or drives away.    

Is De-escalation Training required by the Lawrenceville Police Department?

In 2017, all police officers in Georgia were required by the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council (P.O.S.T.) to receive De-escalation training each year.  Regarding de-escalation during police-citizen encounters, officers shall attempt de-escalation only when the person they are in contact with is non-violent.  De-escalation techniques are also incorporated into other training such as the use of impact weapons, Taser, and firearms.  Along with De-escalation Training, police officers are also required to receive annual training on Deadly Force, Community Policing, Diversity and Cultural Awareness, and Firearms.  Most police departments in Georgia require annually that their employees, both sworn peace officers and civilian staff, receive training on Mental Health Awareness, Domestic Violence, Harassment in the workplace, Transporting Prisoners, At Risk Adults, Due Regard, and Ethics. 

Does the Lawrenceville Police Department have requirements for reporting uses of force?

Within the police department’s policy, there are numerous requirements for use of force reporting that have been followed for years.  Reporting uses of force are not only required by law, but are also necessary for accountability of the officers and department.  Use of force reports are called Response to Resistance reports.  Response to Resistance reports also provide insight to the department’s training staff on areas that may need to be changed, re-structured, created, or discontinued.  In unfortunate instances of the use of deadly force, our department calls on the Georgia Bureau of Investigation as its third-party investigative body which then presents its findings to the Gwinnett County District Attorney’s Office.

Does the Lawrenceville Police Department equip officers with Body Worn Cameras?

This department does equip each sworn officer who performs police duties in a uniform with a Body Worn Camera (BWC). The BWC has provided evidence in cases where force has been used by the officers and against the officers.  The BWC has also proven to be an invaluable tool for gathering evidence that is used in prosecuting cases in courts.  The BWC has also been used to substantiate or disprove complaints against our officers.

If you are a resident within the City of Lawrenceville, we encourage you to attend our annual Citizens Police Academy.  The Citizens Police Academy educates members of our community about police duties and operations.  Applications are available on the Citizens Police Academy Webpage.

Posted June 11, 2020