At a Glance

 

Not just over the last week with the death of George Floyd at the hands of former Minneapolis officers, but over the last several years, renewed concerns have surfaced about how policing in America should be. As we mentioned before in our press release, “we believe in honoring and recognizing our diversity and we believe in making every effort to not only acknowledge challenges in our community, but working together to build one another up and move ever forward, together.”  

Here at the Mountain View Police Department, we've heard those concerns, and we wanted to take a moment to provide additional information on the questions we're receiving regarding training, including topics such as implicit bias, crisis intervention and de-escalation, and use of force. 

Guiding Principles:

We have received many inquiries from the Mountain View community about our police department’s policies and how they may or may not meet some of the guidelines being advocated for by police reform organizations. We’ve re-examined our policies and feel that most, if not all, directly align with the spirit of what is being asked for in the recommendations, but there are nuances in verbiage. For example, this is how our policies compare to the 8cantwait.org website’s recommendations:

  • Ban chokeholds and strangleholds – These techniques are not permitted in our policies.Effective immediately, our department has also banned the use of the carotid hold after a review of our policy and to be in line with state guidance. 
  • Require de-escalation – De-escalation is interwoven into the department’s operations and is included in the department’s policies for crisis intervention, conducted energy devices (Tasers), mental illness, and civil disputes. De-escalation techniques are included in various continued professional training topics.
  • Require warning before shooting – In situations of a person fleeing who an officer reasonably believes will cause death or serious injury if not immediately apprehended, the officer, where feasible, will identify themselves and warn deadly force may be used.
  • Exhaust all other means before shooting – Our policy requires officers evaluate the use of other reasonably available resources and techniques when determining whether to use deadly force, and deadly force is only used when there is an imminent threat of death or serious injury to the officer or another person.
  • Duty to intervene and stop excessive force by other officers – Our policy mandates a duty to intercede if any officer observes another officer using force that is unreasonable.
  • Ban shooting at moving vehicles – While our policy does not ban shooting at moving vehicles, it is only allowed when the driver poses a deadly threat, and is close to the Campaign Zero’s report, which provides a similar exception.
  • Require use-of-force continuum – Law enforcement agencies vary whether they incorporate a use-of-force continuum. Continuum’s do not require officers start with one level of force before moving to another. Our policies require officers to use only that amount of force that reasonably appears necessary given the facts and totality of the circumstances.  
  • Require comprehensive reporting each time an officer uses forces or threatens to do so – All law enforcement actions are documented, to include uses of force and threats of force. The department provides data regarding all officer-involved shootings and incidents involving use of force resulting in serious bodily injury to the California Department of Justice.

For these reasons, we feel our policies are already very close to the recommendations being asked for.  Your police department recognizes and respects the value of all human life and dignity without prejudice to anyone. Vesting officers with the authority to use reasonable force and to protect the public welfare requires monitoring, evaluation and a careful balancing of all interests.

In that spirit, our leadership will discuss potential changes in verbiage to more closely align with the recommended practices.

We hear you, and we know there may continue to be questions about what our policies are, which is why we have this page now dedicated to covering these topics in further detail.
 
This is a living web page, and we will add more to it in the coming days. For now, at your convenience, you can view our policies that we feel meet these guidelines and that strongly align with every intent of ensuring that all members of our community remain safe. It also includes how we have incorporated President Obama’s 21st Century Policing Task Force Report into our operations and where we stand on our progress in that space, along with our Policing Plan that was designed with our community in mind. 

 
We are more than happy to have further dialog on this, and we will continue to work to move forward with intention with our community. 

Transparency and trust in our community with regards to how we protect and serve you is top of mind for us – we understand that the more we are able to open our doors to you on all levels, the more we can connect, communicate, and work together. The information provided here is a compilation of information you may find in other areas of our website, including our annual report, our policies and practices page, and more.
 

Use of force statistics

We recognize, respect, and value all human life and we firmly believe in dignity without prejudice to anyone. Vesting officers with the authority to use reasonable force and to protect the public welfare requires monitoring, evaluation and a careful balancing of all interests. We firmly believe in exhausting all options before having to resort to the use of force, and we are major proponents of crisis intervention techniques, as noted above. 

Furthermore, in response to the 2018 Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury report Police and the Mentally Ill: Improving Outcomes, our department examined our training, policies, and practices to insure compliance and look for opportunities for improvement. Our initial outcomes and findings can be found here and a subsequent 2020 update can be found here.
 
Our use of force policy is readily available here.

With a total of 36,261 calls for service in 2019, either through dispatch or through officer-initiated calls by beat, only 26 of those instances resulted in a use of force by responding officers. No use of force resulted in major injuries or fatalities.

Demographics

The Mountain View Police Department hires for character – we want those who come to serve our community to uphold the standards and expectations not just of us, but of our community. We also believe in having a department that is diverse and reflective of those who call Mountain View home.
 
According to the 2010 Census, the breakdown for the City of Mountain View is as follows:
 
White: 54.9%
Black: 1.8%
American Indian or Alaska Native: 0.3%
Asian: 31.4%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander: 0.4%
Hispanic or Latino: 17.8%
Two or more races: 4.8%
 
Definitions for each race category from the US Census Bureau.

At the Mountain View Police Department, our breakdown for employees is as follows:

 

Training Topics:

We invest heavily in training and keep well above the minimum California Peace Officer Standard and Training (POST) requirements. Our officers train bi-monthly on topics such as the appropriate use of tools and tactics, legal updates, and a variety of other skills, including anti-bias training, de-escalation efforts, and more. Our Training Committee continuously evaluates our tools, tactics, and training to ensure that they remain in line with national best practices. De-escalation is one of our core philosophies and has been incorporated into multiple training topics. To ensure it’s a central part of our culture and operations, we integrate de-escalation as much as possible into our training. More than 50 percent of our officers are also certified in Crisis Intervention Team training (exceeding the national standard of 20%). In every interaction we have on a call for service, the safety of all involved parties is our top priority.
 
Recently, the State of California has required law enforcement to post their policy, procedures and training on their websites. Ours have been posted on mvpdpublicrecords.org. In the coming days we will be adding additional training that our department did on these topics over the past years to show the significant amount of training our department requires of our officers. You will be happy to know that our department has already completed the California legislative mandate related to training that further defines the use of deadly force only needed to defend against an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to officers or bystanders. This legislation, called the California Act to Save Lives, has already made its way towards setting the standard for law enforcement across the nation.

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