After continued calls for police reform over the last two years nationwide, a police department in Maryland is conducting some new training to help cut down on the use of force and keep people from getting hurt.
The Hyattsville Police Department is teaching officers about a new state statute and is also training them on a new tool that police officers say will hopefully help de-escalate situations. The tool called the bola wrap, and lets officers launch a rope at a person to tie them up.
The department will soon issue these devices to all their officers.
"It’s a good tool that would minimize injury, and it’s just something that we could add to our options," Lt. Scott Ratty said.
A new police use-of-force statute just went into effect in Maryland at the start of July. Officers were being trained on it Wednesday.
"I think it’s important for everyone to be on notice," Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy said. "Everyone has to understand the rules they have to live by."
The new Maryland statute says that whenever officers use force, it has to be necessary and proportional to the threat they’re facing, and they have to stop using force when it’s no longer necessary. Officers also have a duty to de-escalate when possible, intervene when they see other officers using too much force, render aid when someone gets hurt, and document the force they used.
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"I think there should be some type of accountability for what we do as police officers," Hyattsville Officer N. Nasir said.
Under the new Maryland statute, if an officer intentionally violates the use of force policy and seriously hurts or kills someone, they could be charged with a misdemeanor and face up to 10 years in jail.
"It’s extremely important that when the officers are out on the streets, that they are armed with information, they are armed with tools to use less lethal force," Braveboy said.