LOGAN — Logan City Police Chief Gary Jensen spoke to the city council Tuesday night after council members asked to review the police department’s policies involving the Use of Force. The review was sparked by numerous form letters that were sent to city officials after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Jensen said the department doesn’t train officers on how to use choke-holds or strangle-holds, like the one that reportedly led to Floyd’s death. There isn’t a policy allowing those tactics unless an officer believes there’s an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to them or another person, when the use of deadly force is justified.
“In the most rare circumstance, if my life were in danger and [a choke-hold] was the only thing I had left, I might employ that,” said Jensen. “That would be the only time it would be used. We don’t train it. We don’t use it. We don’t allow it.”
Officers receive yearly training on the proper use of force, both the policies and practices. They also review different sections of the department’s policy, known as Core Critical Tasks. The Daily Training Bulletins cover any procedure, from high-speed pursuits to the use of deadly force, and is done by each officer during their shift.
Jensen explained that the use of force isn’t needed often by officers but is reviewed by him and the department’s administration when it occurs. In a month there might be only two or three incidents, and most are very minor.
“The simple act of reaching out, having to take a hand and subdue a person, is a use of force. The fact that I deploy a Taser and point it at you but don’t use it, is a use of force. If I point a firearm at somebody or even take out a firearm and point it at the ground, is a use of force.”
Officers are required to file a report for any use of force incidents. Sergeants also randomly sample body camera video to review officers’ conduct during various calls.
Jensen said his officers do a remarkable job policing the city. The instances where use of force was used pales in comparison to the number of calls police handle.
“For a year’s period of time, we had 33,596 calls for service. Of those, we had 0.025 percent, so a quarter of one percent, end in the use of force. Remember, use of force can be the most minimal, taking you by the hand, to the more difficult where we actually have to take a person down to the ground or something like that.”
The police department allows citizens to request and review any incident report. They can also watch any of the body cam or dash cam video that was recorded during the call.
Jensen said the implementation of cameras has been a leveling effect and shows the degree of professionalism that officers have during sometimes difficult situations. The department invites anyone to view video footage, if they feel like they were treated unfairly.
“There is not one video that I have watched that I haven’t been ultimately very proud of these guys, and how they exercise patience and care. The after care is as equally important to me as how they treat a person through the use of force incident. I am always very humbled by the fact that they are so caring and so patient with these folks in difficult times.”
City councilman Jess Bradfield said Chief Jensen and other police officers have one of the most difficult jobs he could imagine, trying to protect the community while following all of the policies and procedures. He thanked the department for the job they do keeping citizens safe.