Use of Force Policy
The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) recognizes that the use of force by police is a critically important issue to the community. MPD’s model use of force policy emphasizes that our officers must de-escalate situations whenever possible and promotes the sanctity of human life. Our officers are required to minimize the force that is used whenever possible while protecting the public and themselves. When using force, our officers continuously reassess the circumstances in order to ensure that force is only used when necessary and that it is reasonable and proportional to the threat faced by members of the public or themselves.
Use of Force Investigations
In June of 2021, MPD reinstituted the Force Investigation Team (FIT), a group of investigators assigned to MPD’s Internal Affairs Division (IAD) who are specially trained to investigate serious uses of force.
Serious Uses of Force Investigated by FIT
Uses of force resulting in death or a serious bodily injury. Serious bodily injury means extreme physical pain, illness, or impairment of physical condition including physical injury that involves: a substantial risk of death; protracted and obvious disfigurement; protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member or organ; or protracted loss of consciousness
Neck restraints or techniques intended to restrict a person’s ability to breathe
MPD canine bites**
Head strikes with a hard object
**Firearm discharges and MPD canine bites that are determined to be misconduct and not a use of force by IAD are investigated as misconduct by an IAD agent. Firearm discharges at animals are investigated by the officer’s chain of command officials.
FIT refers all serious use of force cases to the United States Attorney’s Office (USAO) for the District of Columbia for an independent review to determine if the officer engaged in potentially criminal conduct. For cases that the USAO declines to criminally prosecute, FIT completes their investigation, and the case is referred to the MPD Use of Force Review Board. The Board reviews the actions of all officers involved in the use of force and determines:
- Whether the use of force was justified
- Whether the use of force was consistent with MPD policy
- Whether any of the involved officers need re-training or would benefit from reviewing the incident for tactical improvement opportunities
- Whether any other recommendations are appropriate regarding MPD policy, training, equipment, or other areas.
Officers who are found to have used unjustified force or who violate MPD policy are referred for appropriate discipline.
Use of Force Data
MPD understands that transparency around the use of force is critically important to maintain the public trust. To continue to promote these efforts, MPD will release use of force data on an annual basis beginning with calendar year 2020. The dataset includes serious use of force investigated by IAD as well as other use of force incidents.