Cleveland, Ohio – The Cleveland Police Department has recently been under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department after a number of high-profile police murders have taken place in the city in a short period of time.
One disturbing police practice in Cleveland that the investigation exposed was the fact that officers with the department regularly use their guns to hit people on the head. The 21-month investigation revealed that pistol-whipping is a regular practice for Cleveland police. This practice often results in accidently discharging their guns while hitting people over their heads, putting innocent lives in danger.
One of the outcomes of the investigation was the Cleveland Police Department promising to stop the practice, and will be legally bound to do so according to the Justice Department report.
“[Cleveland Division of Police’s] policy will expressly provide that using a firearm as an impact weapon is never an authorized tactic. Officers will be trained that use of a firearm as an impact weapon could result in death to suspects, bystanders and themselves,“ the report said.
The report also said, “It is also unclear why CDP appears to be categorizing hitting someone with a gun as a conventional response when force is needed. This is uniformly understood to be a dangerous practice that should never be permitted except in very unusual and exigent circumstances in which the use of deadly force is authorized; yet, it was a practice we saw CDP officers engaging in too frequently.”
The report also says police will not be allowed to display their weapons unless they truly believe that lethal force is necessary to use. However, many police officers feel that running away from an officer for a small non-violent offense is reason enough to use lethal force, so these guidelines leave much room for improvement.
However, de-escalation techniques are highlighted in the report, and officers will now allegedly be trained to prevent encounters from ending in violence.
“Many of the things are the long-standing policies in these good departments. Like hitting people with their guns, like a baton. The good departments banned that decades ago,” said Sam Walker, a retired criminology professor at the University of Nebraska.