Madison Police Department Chief Mike Koval called for a broader discussion regarding MPD’s “deadly force” policy on his blog Tuesday, in the continuing aftermath following the shooting death of Tony Robinson this March.
“Use of force is one of the most critical and criticized pieces of law enforcement,” said Ald. Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, District 5. “It’s certainly a big piece of the current conversation.”
Koval’s post came in concurrence with the community preparing for the district attorney’s decision on whether to prosecute MPD Officer Matt Kenny for his involvement in the death of Tony Robinson. The decision is expected to be released in the upcoming weeks, following a 48-hour advisory pre-announcement.
“In our line of work, officers are not granted any "mulligans" or "do over's" when confronted with a deadly force encounter,” Koval wrote. “If an officer is faced with a suspect pointing a gun at them from close range, the cop should not be forced to "guess" as to whether the subject is bluffing.”
MPD’s policy only authorizes the use of deadly force when in defense of another or oneself under the “imminent danger of death,” or to aid in the arrest of a suspect that either has or is expected “to cause death and great bodily harm,” which requires the officer to have “reasonable cause,” according to Koval’s post.
Deadly force is not authorized for use as a warning shot, for use from a moving vehicle unless under special circumstances or for when its use rather than non use would potentially put bystanders in danger.
All instances of deadly force use are required to be reported immediately to the officer in charge or immediate supervisor.
“Whenever there is a police action that results in the loss of life, it is understood and entirely appropriate that everything should be scrutinized,” Koval wrote.
According to national statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice, jointly published with the National Institute of Justice, the rate of civilians being shot and killed was about one instance per 1,000 officers. However, statistics also showed more than 27 million complaints of “excessive force” reported in city police departments.