Q: Does OPD teach choke-holds or placing knees on neck?
A: No. The Orlando Police Department does not teach “choke-holds or strangleholds” to our officers. This technique is not approved by any OPD policy, order, directive, or guideline.
Q: Does OPD have a policy to cover de-escalation, or do they train for it?
A: Yes. The Orlando Police Department trains all members on de-escalation techniques frequently. OPD reinforces these techniques by presenting the Preservation of Life award to officers who de-escalate dangerous and potentially deadly force situations.
Q: Do OPD officers give verbal warnings before shooting their weapons?
A: Verbal warnings are given in all force encounters, when practical. In deadly force situations, where the offender poses an imminent threat of death or great bodily harm to a citizen or the member, verbal warnings may not be practical based on time, distance, and safety. For example, giving a verbal warning to an active shooter would likely not be practical and could result in the loss of additional innocent lives. However, in other situations, such as person armed with a knife threatening to stab a person, verbal commands would be given. In such a situation, officers would order the suspect to “drop the knife” as an attempt to de-escalate the situation.
Q: Are OPD officers required to use other means before shooting their weapons?
A: Deadly force is justified only when the officer reasonably believes such force is necessary to prevent imminent danger of death or great bodily harm to the employee or any individual; or when the employee has probable cause to believe a subject is committing or has committed a forcible felony and the subject’s actions, pose imminent danger to any individual if apprehension is delayed. Certain instances, such as when an officer responds to an active shooting, may require an officer’s primary weapon to be used immediately.
Even then, OPD policy prohibits the use of deadly force when the circumstances make it likely that an innocent bystander or victim will be injured by the gunfire.
Q: Are OPD officers trained on, or have a policy on, “duty to intervene”?
A: Yes. Our Response to Resistance policy states that, “It shall be the duty of every employee present… to either stop or attempt to stop another employee when force is inappropriately used and/or no longer required. Officers who witness inappropriate or excessive force have a duty to report violations immediately to a supervisor or Internal Affairs.”
Q: Are OPD officers allowed to shoot at moving vehicles?
A: As outlined in OPD policy, shooting at moving vehicles is highly discouraged and must be the only objectively reasonable and necessary option under the circumstances. OPD officers are not allowed to shoot at moving vehicles unless a person in the vehicle is immediately threatening the officer or another person with deadly force by means other than the vehicle. The policy even prohibits officers from intentionally positioning themselves in the path of a moving vehicle, thereby creating circumstances in which the use of deadly force is the probable outcome. An officer in the path of an approaching vehicle must attempt to move to a position of safety rather than discharging a firearm at the vehicle or any occupants of the vehicle. Ultimately, it is understood that the policy may not cover every situation that may arise. If an officer shoots at a moving vehicle, their actions will be examined rigorously.
Q: Does OPD have a use of force policy or a “use of force continuum”?
A: Yes. At the Orlando Police Department, our use of force policy is described in a policy called “Response to Resistance.” The policy instructs officers on the type of actions they may take in response to a person who refuses a lawful instruction.
Q: What are the reporting requirements for an officer who responds to resistance?
A: In each of the following circumstances, a supervisor is required to complete a Response to Resistance investigation:
- Use of chemical agent
- Use of tire deflation devices
- Use of impact weapons (baton, SAGE SL6, etc.)
- K-9 dog bites, other than accidental
- Use of electronic control devices (TASER)
- Forearm/knee/open and closed hand strikes
- Use of a tactic and/or techniques used on a handcuffed subject
- Use of any technique or the application of any weapon that results in actual or claimed (evident or non-evident) injury
If a firearm is discharged, or an employee applies any technique or weapon that results in death, the events will be investigated by Internal Affairs instead of a supervisor. In addition, any use of deadly force is independently investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). FDLE always presents their findings to the State Attorney, who then decides whether to file criminal charges.
Q: How much training is required for OPD officers?
A: Officers are required to be certified prior to becoming sworn members. The current police academy is 770 hours, and recruits must pass a state exam approved by FDLE. Prior to the officer being released to solo patrol, our recruit officers are mandated to attend a 6-week orientation class (240 hours) then start a four (4) phase Field Training Program. The four phases are with a Field Training Officer and consists of 15 days for Phase 1, 16 days for Phase 2, 16 days for Phase 3, and 7 days for Phase 4.
Q: How many hours are they re-trained each year?
A: Currently, FDLE requires all existing officers to receive at least 40 hours of additional training, every 4 years, to keep their certification. The Orlando Police Department exceeds FDLE standards by providing each officer approximately 40 hours of training per year.
Q: Does OPD teach implicit bias training?
A: Yes. The Orlando Police Department has a policy specifically devoted to bias-free policing. We also conduct an implicit bias training called “Fair and Impartial Policing.” This training teaches officers the importance of being fair, transparent, and policing with impartiality, to gain the trust and confidence of our community.
Q: How does OPD screen individuals wanting to become a police officer (what tests/exams are they given to tell if they have racial biases)?
A: OPD’s hiring process consists of the following:
- Pre-employment application
- Full employment application (only after they meet minimum requirements)
- Civil Service Test
- Panel Interview
- Chief’s Interview Post polygraph
- Psychological exam by a licensed doctor
- Physical/medical exam by a licensed doctor
- FDLE Physical Agilities Test
If during any part of their process, we determine/discover anything that can discredit or embarrass the agency or city, they become disqualified.
Q: Why does OPD use tear gas?
A: Our mission is to provide a safe environment for our citizens to peacefully assemble and protest. When the assembly becomes unlawful, violent, or places the safety of the lives and property at risk, we have a sworn duty to protect. The use of chemical agents is an effective less lethal tactic used to minimize the potential threat of resistance by the subject(s). The use of these chemical agents assists in preventing the officers from going hands on with the subjects, which reduces injury to both the officer and subject. Per our policy, OPD uses three types of chemical products which may cause tears or other irritation as a response to resistance: chemical agents, “Clear Out”, and pyrotechnic grenades.
Q: Why does OPD use rubber bullets?
A: OPD’s special teams utilize direct impact sponge rounds to stop active resistance without causing permanent or long-term injury. The direct impact sponge round can be used only by officers who are specially trained in their use.
Q: How does OPD discipline officers?
A: Reported violations of any policy results in a formal investigation by Internal Affairs, which is managed by a civilian manager. If a violation occurs, the officer will be disciplined. The severity of the discipline is based on the seriousness of the violation, the officer’s history, and other relevant factors. In an appropriate case, the department may consider terminating the officer’s employment. In any case where the officer has committed a criminal act, the case is turned over to the State Attorney’s Office.
Q: Does OPD have a citizen police review board?
A: The City of Orlando has a Citizen’s Police Review Board, which was created in 1992. The Board consists of nine members appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by City Council. To the extent possible, the membership of the Board is required to reflect the racial, ethnic, and cultural diverseness of the City of Orlando.
The Board reviews citizen complaints, departmental investigations including the use of deadly force, allegations of excessive force, any instance wherein police action results in death or serious bodily injury, any complaint referred to it by the Mayor, a City Commissioner, Chief Administrative Officer, Chief of Police or the Civil Service Board, and any complaint selected by majority vote of the Board for review. Members of the public are welcome to observe Board meetings. Additionally, the Board reviews policies, procedures, rules, regulations, general or special orders pertaining to the use of force and police conduct toward the citizenry.
Q: Why does the city not do an awareness campaign to let the citizens know about the citizen’s police review board (series of tweets or Facebook posts)?
A: The city is fully open about our Citizen’s Police Review Board. The schedule of meetings is available by clicking here.