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While Aurora has seen a substantial increase in crime during the past two years, city lawmakers have long said that public safety and police spending were priorities.

Aurora’s proposed 2017 budget focuses on more cops, firefighters and efficiency

Phone apps for police officers

Aurora police union seeks extra protections for

recruits as probationary period ballot question looms

Sgt. Bob Wesner, president of the Aurora Police Association, said the union is hoping to negotiate with the city some additional language that would allow officers who aren’t appointed police officers before the end of the probationary period ends to appeal the department’s decision

AURORA| Voters could be asked this fall to extend the probationary period for new Aurora police officers.

Under current rules, officers are on probation for a year from the day they are hired. If voters approve the measure, which City Council’s Public Safety Committee unanimously approved last week, officers would be on probation for six months after they complete formal training. Including the time they spend in training, the officers would never be on probation for less than one year and never longer than two years, according to a memo from Assistant City Attorney Nancy Rodgers.

The measure will go before the full council June 27. In the memo, Rodgers said the ballot question must be certified by Sept. 9 to be on the November ballot.apdRodgers’ memo said that in recent years officers have spent more time in formal training, which has meant they have less time on the street before their probationary period ends. The ballot measure is aimed at extending that period.

Councilwoman Barb Cleland, who chairs the public safety committee, said the goal is to make sure new officers are as prepared as they can be.

“With all the issues, we want to make sure our newbies have all the training they should have,” she said.

But the measure, at least in its current form, is meeting opposition from the police officers’ union.

Sgt. Bob Wesner, president of the Aurora Police Association, said the union is hoping to negotiate with the city some additional language that would allow officers who aren’t appointed police officers before the end of the probationary period ends to appeal the department’s decision.

New officers don’t currently have that option, Wesner said, but if the department is going to extend the period during which the chief can fire recruits, the union wants those officers to have a chance to appeal.

Officers get a pay raise when they complete the probationary period now, Wesner said, but pushing that back by an additional year isn’t a chief concern for the union. Instead, Wesner said, they are concerned about offering officers due process should the department opt not to hire them.

Probationary periods vary from department to department. At the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office, new recruits are on probation for one year, said Julie Brooks, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office. In Denver, officers are on probation for six months after they graduate the academy, said Detective Raquel Lopez, a spokeswoman for the department.

15 use-of-force cases every cop needs to know

"Risk comes from not knowing what you're doing" — Warren Buffet

Mar 18, 2016

Understanding use of force case law will help you train your officers to act within the confines of the law. Knowing these cases will help train you on how to investigate use of force. Understanding what SCOTUS and lower courts have said will also help you educate the public on exactly what cops are able to do and how that looks.

Here are 15 use-of-force cases that every department and elected official must know, understand, use, and preach. The following are just the names and a quick one-line explanation. Do your homework with a thorough examination of each.

1. Graham v. Connor — This is the essential use of force rubric in the country.
2. Tennessee v. Garner — Addresses deadly force to prevent escape.
3. Terry v. Ohio — Established the legality of so-called “Stop & Frisk” searches.
4. Plakas v. Drinski — No constitutional duty to use lesser force when deadly force is authorized.  
5. Pena v. Leombruni — Addresses suspect’s known mental state regarding force.
Thompson v. Hubbard — Case where suspect appeared to be drawing a gun and no gun found.
Smith v. Freland — Examined policy violation but no violation of Constitutional law.
8. Bush v. City of Tallahassee — Addresses excessive force applied through Graham.
9. Green v. N.J. State Police — Addresses excessive force applied through Graham.
10. Forrett v. Richardson — Unarmed fleeing felon applied through Tennessee v. Garner.
11. Elliot v. Leavitt — Addresses 20/20 hindsight on officer shooting.  
12. Brown v. United States — The original (1921) Graham v. Connor style decision.
13. Wardlaw v. Pickett — Punching an approaching verbally argumentative person.
14. City of Canton v. Harris — Addresses liability and “failure to train.”
15. Powpow v. Margate — Addresses shooting an innocent person (training). 

Don’t Just Train Your Officers — Train Everyone
Educating the public on police operations — especially use of force — is going to be the next big thing for quite some time. Furthermore, by understanding this case law we are giving officers an understanding of the legal ground on which they stand so they do not have to be afraid to use it. In today’s climate we’re seeing too many officers not reacting like they should and getting seriously hurt or killed. This trend has recently been coined as “deadly hesitation.” 

It’s chalked up to a lack of understanding of the law and a lack of courage on behalf of communities to back their officers. All of this could be fixed by well-informed chiefs, mayors, council members, reporters, and officers.

Do not assume that judges and district attorneys know and understand use of force case law like you do. This is not their fault. It is something they rarely touch. They can prosecute a drunk driver or domestic violence arrest in their sleep but a police shooting rarely (if ever) comes across their desk. Are you a master of every facet of your job? 

Don’t let your district attorney base their charging decisions off of a lack of understanding of the law and how it works. You may find it useful to comb through the aforementioned cases with your local DA to help foster an environment of understanding all the way around. I would suggest doing it before an event rather than after.

There are several other important cases out there — the 15 listed above are just a few of the big ones. This is in no way a comprehensive list. If you know of current cases regarding use of force please leave them in the comment section below for all of us to review. 

About the author

Lieutenant Paul Marik is a 20-year veteran of law enforcement who began his career working undercover straight out of the academy. He has worked all facets of the job including School Resource Officer, SWAT, Narcotics, Patrol, Field Training (FTO), and he is currently a Lieutenant Commander with the Pleasant Prairie (Wis.) Police Department. Paul has been with the PPPD since 1997 and is the senior trainer for the department. Paul holds a BS in Management of Criminal Justice and an MBA. He is a state-wide instructor for Firearms, Defense & Arrest Tactics, Use of Force, Deadly Force Decision Making, Dry-Fire, Low Light Shooting, Honor Guard, and Tactical Functional Training. 

Paul is also a Master Instructor in Tactical Response and a Certified Force Science Analyst (FSI). He is currently a 15year member (senior operator) of the Kenosha County Tactical Response Team (SWAT).  He is recognized in his region as a use of force analyst and has investigated several use-of-force situations involving officers in southeastern Wisconsin. 

Paul is a current member of the International Law Enforcement Trainers Association (ILEETA), Midwest Tactical Officers Association (MTOA), and the Wisconsin Honor Guard Association (WHGA).


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