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Eight Can’t Wait

Eight Can’t Wait

College Place Police Department Responds To Cries For Reform 

By Lauren Vizcarra 

Summary: The College Place Police Department has undergone some changes. Some of these changes are a result of recent country reform sparked by the death of George Floyd and others, while other changes were already being implemented.  

There has been an increased need for body cameras in the police force in the wake of recent shootings or mishandlings of suspects. If all goes accordingly, CPPD will have body cameras for each of their 14 officers starting March 1, 2021. The department has been trying to get them for years, but it took time because the overall cost of body cameras for 14 officers is $200,000. The heavy cost of body cameras is the main reason why many police departments do not yet have them. [1] 

The 8 Can’t Wait campaign, a project created by Campaign Zero, is a series of eight policies desired to bring change to police departments across America. The eight policies include:  

  1. Banning chokeholds and strangleholds. 
  1. Requiring de-escalation tactics. 
  1. Requiring warning before shooting. 
  1. Requiring exhaustion of all alternatives before shooting. 
  1. Duty to intervene. 
  1. Banning shooting at moving vehicles. 
  1. Requiring the use of force continuum. 
  1. Requiring comprehensive reports. [2] 

The College Place Police Department has become aware of the 8 Can’t Wait campaign. It is important to note that many of the 8 Can’t Wait policies were already being practiced before 8 Can’t Wait became a widespread movement of change. [3] 

Chokeholds and strangle holds are not used at CPPD, according to Police Chief Troy Tomaras of the CPPD. They train their officers to use the vascular neck restraint, which cuts off blood flow, rendering the person unconscious. The VNR does not restrict oxygen to the brain and is a less lethal option for officers to use in a confrontation. [4] 

CPPD officers are trained in de-escalation techniques, meaning that an officer’s goal is to reduce the intensity of a situation and prevent further harm. The department has a certified de-escalation instructor. All officers are required by law to attend a minimum of 40 hours of de-escalation training every three years. Officers are also required to complete annual Crisis Intervention Training. [5] 

Chief Troy Tomaras, ready to protect and serve. Photo by City of College Place. 

The next 8 Can’t Wait policy is for police departments to require warnings before discharging their weapons. CPPD policy 300.5 states in part that “a verbal warning should precede the use of deadly force, where feasible.” Sometimes, when faced with an immediate threat such as a gun suddenly aimed at an officer, a verbal warning is not feasible. Whenever possible, however, CPPD officers give a verbal warning before discharging their weapons. They do not give warning shots as they have to be accountable for every shot fired and a warning shot could potentially harm an innocent bystander or cause damage to the surrounding area. [6] 

Trained to exhaust all alternatives before shooting, CPPD officers also follow the fourth 8 Can’t Wait policy. CPPD officers have less lethal tools such as tasers, ASP batons, less lethal shotgun beanbag rounds, and vascular neck restraints. They have also ordered 40 mm less lethal impact munitions for the supervisors. [7] 

Duty to intervene means that if a police officer sees another officer doing something unethical or harmful to anyone, it is their duty to intervene or intercede. CPPD policy 300.2.1 states in part that “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 to prevent the use of unreasonable force.” [8] 

CPPD does not ban shooting at moving vehicles, but they do recognize and train that it is a last alternative. An officer will only discharge their weapon at a moving vehicle if they believe there is no other way to avert the threat of the vehicle or if the vehicle is a threat to the officer directly. [9] 

See Also

Force continuum dictates that during an encounter, officers meet it with the least amount of force first, before progressing to more severe force. The CPPD trains their officers to appropriately respond to threats. Sometimes, this means that the use of force continuum is not feasible. For example, if an officer is confronted with lethal force immediately upon contact. The state of Washington requires 24 hours of refresher training a year per officer and CPPD exceeds that with an average of 332 hours a year per officer. [10] 

CPPD has always required comprehensive reporting. All officers must make detailed reports. This practice protects officers and helps keep them accountable. [11] 

The mission statement of CPPD is, “The College Place Police Department embraces the philosophy of community oriented policing and strives to enhance the quality of life and safety of our citizens with the highest degree of ethical behavior, fairness and professional conduct.” [12] 

Chief Tomaras takes great pride in his job. He states that he and his officers are here to serve the community without bias. Chief Tomaras is always open to conversation about his department and would be happy to talk to anyone who wants to learn more about what the CPPD stands for and how each officer serves the community. [13] 

Citations  

  1. 8 Can’t Wait Campaign, https://bit.ly/3oXTSYC. 
  1. Interview with Troy Tomaras, CPPD police chief, 2/4/21. 
  1.  Interview with Troy Tomaras, CPPD police chief, 2/4/21 and City of College Place, Washington. (2021 January 20). Youth Advisory Commission Meeting [Video]. Youtube. https://bit.ly/3pX8R6w. 
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Ibid. 
  1. Ibid. 
  1. CPPD Mission Statement. https://bit.ly/3pYRAd4. 
  1. Interview with Troy Tomaras, CPPD police chief, 2/4/21. 
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