City commissioners unanimously approved a motion to audit the Tallahassee Police Department’s use of force policy during Wednesday’s meeting.
Also known as “General Order 60,” it was not expected to face opposition from the mayor or commissioners.
The audit would include a review of TPD’s use of force policy and its officer training related to response to resistance.
In TPD’s General Order 60 the response to resistance states that, “When officers are engaged in any response to resistance encounter, they are responsible for making the preservation of human life their first priority and using only the amount of force objectively reasonable to effectively bring the incident under control.”
This audit was proposed and voted on after TPD and other law enforcement last month arrested 19 peaceful protesters (also referred to as the “Tally 19”) at a demonstration against police brutality. The audit was also passed after a TPD police officer shot and killed Tony McDade back in May, the third fatal officer-involved shooting this year involving TPD officers and Black Tallahassee residents.
Many citizens who provided public comment wished that this audit would address the arrests of the peaceful protesters. Some even asked that the city commission aid in dropping all of the charges for the “Tally 19.”
“The audit should be used to protect peaceful protesters we have obviously all seen what has happened and transpired in Tallahassee over the past several months. I would say without a doubt that the majority of these protests have been peaceful and I do not think there was any reason why September 5th should have happened. I think it was an egregious use of force and moving forward the very least Tallahassee can do is put through a legit audit of TPD’s use of force,” said Jon Rimert.
Mayor Pro Tem Dianne Williams-Cox decided to reiterate her definition of an audit from her own experience and let citizen’s know that the audit will most likely include a thorough review of the use of force policy and not take in citizens’ input or feelings toward the issue unless that is asked of from the auditor.
“Because there were so many speakers I wanted them to know that an audit is independent and the auditor is not in cahoots with the Tallahassee Police department. The audit is not emotional and is factual. Anyone who has ever sat with an audit it is sometimes painful,” Williams-Cox said.
During the meeting, City Manager Reese Goad said that the audit will help highlight the good in TPD’s use of force policy.
“I think we will find that the policies related to TPD’s use of force are good and best in class for the most part. I especially look forward to the review of the adequacy of training,” Goad said.
According to Dennis Sutton, the city auditor, the audit is expected to be completed by the end of the calendar year.