Report: Vancouver police taking steps to change use of force policies

Clark County

The police department is making changes after a series of officer-involved shootings in 2019

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As part of an effort to better understand the Vancouver Police Department’s use of force and to increase transparency, city officials shared their final report on the Community Task Force on Policing with Vancouver City Council Monday. 

The Community Task Force on Policing was created in June 2020 by City Manager Eric Holmes to review and assure transparency and accountability while VPD implemented 84 recommendations made by the Police Executive Research Forum. The recommendations focused on ways to reform VPD’s culture, policies and practices around use of force. 

The city sought recommendations from the Police Executive Research Forum after four officer-involved shooting incidents occurred within a short period of time in early 2019. 

Among the 84 recommendations include things like implementing the Critical Decision-Making Model throughout the agency to help officers resolve situations they encounter, prohibiting neck restraints, prohibiting shooting at or from a moving vehicle, and restricting the use of K-9s to serious criminal offenses. 

Vancouver Police Chief James McElvain said in the final report that his department addressed 74 of the 84 recommendations and is currently working on the final 10. 

“Full implementation of the PERF recommendations ensures that VPD is responsive to the needs of the community, that it is accountable and transparent to the community it serves, and that it’s able to evolve with the changing needs and dynamics of the community,” McElvain said. 

Seven of the remaining 10 recommendations are related to the development of a Critical Incident Review Board. The Vancouver Police Department says it has started this process and will likely begin work in 2022. 

One recommendation is regarding data collection to quantify de-escalation. The department says it is actively working on procedures to capture this data. 

The final two recommendations are part of negotiations with guilds and contract bargaining is set to begin in 2022. 

The Community Task Force on Policing is comprised of members representing the Vancouver City Council, the Chief’s Diversity Advisory Team, mental health resources, homeless resource providers, police labor organizations, the City Manager’s Office, the Office of the Chief and Vancouver’s diverse communities. They met monthly between September 2020 and September 2021. 

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