SAVANNAH, GA (June 10, 2020) – With the nationwide call to action to address use of force policies in law enforcement, the Savannah Police Department became aware of the “8 Can’t Wait” campaign. After reviewing the policy adoptions proposed by the campaign, Savannah Police was found to be in compliance.

The Savannah Police Department is committed to the mission of not only protecting but serving the community. This commitment requires the implementation of policies that uphold SPD’s ethics and reduces use of force incidents with community members. SPD will continue training proper verbal and physical-de-escalation strategies to officers and continue evaluating policies to align them with best practices in this area.

The information below illustrates SPD’s policies on each proposal addressed by the campaign. Complete copies of relevant policies are available upon request.

Ban chokeholds and strangle holds

  • Neither technique is allowed by SPD policy.

Require de-escalation training

  • All officers are trained in verbal and physical de-escalation training. 

Require a warning before shooting

  • Our policy states, “A verbal warning will be issued prior to the discharge of a firearm, if practical.”

Exhaust all other means before shooting 

  • Officers receive training in verbal de-escalation and conflict resolution and are required to use the amount of force that reasonably appears necessary.

Duty to intervene

  • Any officer present and observing another officer using force that is clearly beyond that which is objectively reasonable under the circumstances shall, when in a position to do so, intercede. SPD policy also requires that an officer who observes another employee using force that is beyond reasonable under the circumstances promptly report those observations to a supervisor.
  • The SPD Oath of Office, Ethics and Conduct Policy states “any employee that observes serious misconduct will take appropriate action to cause the misconduct to immediately cease regardless of rank.”

Ban shooting at moving vehicles 

  • An Officer WILL NOT discharge a firearm at the occupants of a vehicle (moving or stationary) or from a moving vehicle, except in self-defense or the
    defense of another.
  • Officers WILL NOT discharge a firearm at a moving vehicle in an attempt to disable the vehicle.

Require use of force continuum 

  • SPD does not follow a specific continuum for use of physical force as Officers are to operate under state and Federal law which is defined as, “a reasonable amount force and/or minimum amount of force to affect the arrest.”

Require comprehensive reporting

  • After any use of force by a member of the department, a supervisor shall be notified, and it shall be documented promptly.  All use of force incidents are reviewed by a Precinct Commander or above.

Link to SPD’s “8 Can’t Wait” Information Page: http://savannahpd.org/8cantwait/