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Maine Criminal Justice Academy amends use of force policies

The Board of Trustees amended the minimum standards for law enforcement policies on the use of force and hate or bias crimes.
Credit: Maine Criminal Justice Academy

VASSALBORO, Maine — The Maine Criminal Justice Academy Board of Trustees on Tuesday announced changes to law enforcement policies that were made during its June 19 meeting. The Board said the purpose of the changes is to "enhance the standards and to give better guidance to law enforcement officers in Maine." 

Notable changes include marking chokeholds as unacceptable means of arrest or restraint unless deadly force is authorized, stating excessive force may never be used, and requiring all law enforcement agencies to report any complaint of bias-based profiling to the Maine Attorney General, among others. 

According to a release, additions to the mandatory standards for the Use of Force policy are certain procedures implicit in law enforcement operations for several years, but not previously expressly stated in the standards. 

Specifically, any law enforcement Use of Force policy must now contain affirmative language that:

  • The use of chokeholds or similar methods are not an acceptable or approved means of arrest, restraint, and control unless deadly force is authorized
  • Officers must intervene and report to superiors when they see any other officer using unreasonable or unnecessary force
  • Discharging a firearm at a moving vehicle is prohibited unless deadly force is authorized
  • Requires de-escalation techniques, when feasible
  • Excessive force may never be used
  • Officers must monitor an individual in their custody for evidence of injury or medical distress and request emergency medical aid any time an individual in custody appears injured or in medical distress
  • Officers must recognize the common causes of excited delirium, dangers present to the officer and/or individual suffering from excited delirium, and the dangers of positional asphyxia

Each agency in Maine must annually certify that the agency has adopted written policies consistent with the standards established by the Board of Trustees. Officers who violate the standards are subject to losing their certification to work as a law enforcement officer.

The Board says this is a process unique to Maine; most states do not have the authority to set such law enforcement standards. 

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