Reducing Use of Force: A Success Story

I recently received this correspondence from an old friend, Chuck Wexler, who serves as the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF). Basically, it is what I have been advocating; that is, that police leaders stand up, identify the problem (excessive uses of force), get help, propose new policies and training regimens, and then report back to the community what they have accomplished. This will go a long way to re-building trust between police and community members — particularly those who have been on the receiving end of forceful actions by police.

Sheriff Mike Chitwood

Sheriff Mike Chitwood of Volusia County, Florida, gets it!

Here’s Chuck’s report:

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Dear PERF members,

Chuck Wexler

I’m pleased to send you this 2nd issue of “PERF Trending: People, Ideas, and Events.” I want to thank everyone who emailed me with feedback about the first issue last Saturday.

A Florida success story: Let’s start this issue with a good news story from Mike Chitwood, Sheriff of Volusia County, Florida. Many of you know Mike, who began his career with the Philadelphia Police Department and later served for a decade as Chief of Police in Daytona Beach, FL.

In August 2016, Mike was elected Sheriff in Volusia County, having run on a platform of taking a fresh look at the operations of the Sheriff’s Office, in particular regarding use of force.

Mike took office in 2017 and hit the ground running, announcing that PERF would be assisting the Sheriff’s Office with a study of its use-of-force policies, procedures, training, and case files. PERF completed its study in September 2018, and because we had been keeping Mike informed as we conducted our research, by the time we finished our report, Mike had already implemented some of our recommendations. He continued that process in 2019.

Here are the results so far. As you can see, in every category, use of force has declined since Mike took office. Well done, Sheriff Chitwood!

20152016201720182019
Officer-involved Shootings710632
K-9 Apprehensions4131291817
Taser Utilized5244393015
Total Less-Lethal Force2041681387764
Total Use of Force2111781448065