Use of Force

Northeastern University Police Department

Guiding Principals

The NUPD requires its officers, in all that they do, to protect the constitutional rights of its constituent community; to strive toward legitimate authority always considering the principles of procedural justice including fairness, voice, transparency, and impartiality; to use force judiciously and only that force that is reasonable; and to convey in values, mission, and written directives a sense of responsibility and compassion.

Legitimacy reflects the belief that officers will consider the intention of the law before the letter of the law; and will act according to what they should do rather than what they can do.

The work world of police is too complex to teach officers what they should and should not do in every circumstance; however, we can teach officers to think about how they should act and allow them to reflect on and discuss their actions, thereby improving over time according to a set of shared values, knowledge, and skills.

These values include: Diversity & Inclusion, Engagement, Individual Well-Being, Collaboration, and Innovation.

All NUPD policies and procedures have been written according to best practices and CALEA Accreditation Standards.


Policy Abstract

Objective of a Use of Force: The objective of the use of force is to maintain and/or reestablish control over a situation. Control is reached when a person complies with an officer’s directions and/or the subject is restrained or apprehended and no longer presents a threat to the officer or others. NUPD officers should always use the minimum amount of force that is reasonable and necessary to accomplish their lawful objectives.

Use of Force Model: The NUPD subscribes to the Massachusetts Municipal Police Training Committee’s Use of Force Model, which identifies five levels of force including Cooperative Controls, Contact Controls, Compliance Techniques, Defensive Tactics, and Deadly Force.

Officer’s Perceived Subject Actions: These levels correspond with the officer’s perceived subject actions including Compliant, Passive Resistant, Active Resistant, Assaultive Bodily Harm, Assaultive Bodily Harm/Death.

De-escalation Required: NUPD requires officers to apply de-escalation techniques whenever possible.

Choke Holds Prohibited: Officers are prohibited from using choke holds of any kind including the Lateral Vascular Neck Restraint and strangulation holds.

Duty to Intervene: Officers have a duty to intervene and notify appropriate supervisory authority if they observe another member of the department engage in any unreasonable use of force or if they become aware of any violation of departmental policy, state/provincial or federal law, or local ordinance.

Less-lethal Options: Officers are authorized to use department-approved, less lethal force techniques and issued equipment to:

  • protect the officer or others from physical harm;
  • restrain or subdue a resistant individual, while making a lawful arrest or placing a person in protective custody;
  • bring an unlawful situation safely and effectively under control;
  • Non-sworn officers are limited in the use of less lethal weapons for defense of themselves, fellow officers, or others who are threatened with serious bodily injury or death.

Medical Attention: After any level of force is used, the officer shall immediately evaluate the need for medical attention or treatment for that person upon whom the force was used and arrange for such treatment

Reporting Requirements: In all cases of use of force of incidents, officers are required to write a Use of Force Report except for custodial procedures with compliant subjects, such as physical touching, holding, frisking, or handcuffing; these are not included as reportable use of force incidents.

Administrative Review: For all use of force incidents, the NUPD conducts an administrative review including an entry in Guardian Tracking. The review process includes the shift supervisor, the Lieutenant of Patrol, the Deputy Chief of Police, and the Lieutenant of Professional Standards.

Analysis: Even though accreditation standards only require an annual analysis of use of force incidents, the NUPD conducts continual analysis in real time in order to address misconduct, improve training, and review policy.

Objective of a Use of Force

The objective of the use of force is to maintain and/or reestablish control over a situation.  Control is reached when a person complies with an officer’s directions and/or the subject is restrained or apprehended and no longer presents a threat to the officer or others. NUPD officers should always use the minimum amount of force that is reasonable and necessary to accomplish their lawful objectives.

Use of Force Model

The NUPD subscribes to the Massachusetts Municipal Police Training Committee’s Use of Force Model, which identifies five levels of force including Cooperative Controls, Contact Controls, Compliance Techniques, Defensive Tactics, and Deadly Force.

Officer’s Perceived Subject Actions

These levels correspond with the officer’s perceived subject actions including Compliant, Passive Resistant, Active Resistant, Assaultive Bodily Harm, Assaultive Bodily Harm/Death.


Data

*Three (3) Uses of Force in 2017 and One (1) Use of Force in 2019 involved a Suspect of Unknown Race

Additional Data

Use of Force Incidents

In 2020, there were twelve (12) reportable uses of force. Eight (8) incidents involved weaponless physical force and four (4) incidents involved displaying a firearm.

Incident Details 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Discharge of Firearm 0 0 0 0 0
Display of Firearm 0 0 6 4 4
Use of OC*** 0 0 1 0 0
Display of OC*** 0 0 0 0 0
Use of Baton 0 0 1 1 0
Weaponless Physical Force 5 10 5 7 8
Total Reportable Uses of Force 5 10 10* 11** 12
*There were ten (10) use of force incidents reported in 2018. Two (2) incidents involved multiple uses of force.**There were eleven (11) use of force incidents reported in 2019. One (1) incident involved multiple uses of force. ***Oleoresin Capsicum Spray


Complaints of Excessive Force

There was (1) use of force incident that resulted in complaints of excessive force in 2020.

Incident Details 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Complaints of Excessive Force 0 0 0 0 1
Total In Custody Arrests 84 70 83 *

*Please note that the data for 2020 has not yet been compiled, thus this will be updated with 2020 data when it becomes available.


Trends or Patterns Related to Race, Age, and Gender of Subjects

Due to the low number of incidents, there are few patterns or trends that can be examined.

Race 2017 2018 2019 2020
Asian 0 1 1 0
Black 5 4 7 6
Hispanic 0 0 0 0
White 5 7 3 5
Unknown 3 0 1 1
Total 13 12 12 12

 

Age 2017 2018 2019 2020
≥ 17 2 1 1
18 – 21 3 2 3
22 – 29 5 6 6
30 – 39 2 2 1
40 – 49 0 1 1
Total   12 12 12

 

Gender 2017 2018 2019 2020
Male 8 11 11 11
Female 5 1 1 1
Total 13 12 12 12

 

NU Affiliate 2017 2018 2019 2020
No 10 10 11
Yes 2 2 1
Total   12 12 12


Trends or Patterns Resulting in Injury to Any Person Including Employee

In 2020, there were two (2) reported injuries of subjects and one (1) reported injury to an officer related to use of force incidents. One (1) subject reported a minor injury and was cleared by Emergency Medical Services. One (1) subject requested and was evaluated by Emergency Medical Services but declined EMS transport. One (1) officer received a minor injury and was evaluated by Emergency Medical Services.

Incident Details 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Injury to officer 0 1 1 0 1
Injury to subject 0 0 1 1 2


Assault on Sworn Officer Review

In 2020, there was one (1) assault on a sworn officer of the Northeastern University Police Department. The subject was combative upon the officer’s arrival at the scene, resulting in a physical struggle. Both the subject and officer were evaluated by Emergency Medical Services. At this time there are no policy or training revisions recommended.

Findings and Recommendations

Of the twelve (12) reported uses of force, all were approved as in compliance with department policy.

2020 was our third year using Guardian Tracking to document use of force incidents. The use of Guardian Tracking has allowed for much greater ease of compiling and analyzing these use of force reports.


Optimization

Immediately following every reported use of force, the NUPD conducts a comprehensive review of the facts and circumstances surrounding the use of force.  This review includes a first line supervisor review of the justification, the appropriateness, and in adherence with policy based on the facts and circumstances of the incident.

After the first line review, the report is further reviewed by the Lieutenant of Patrol according to the same standards.

Next, the report is reviewed by the Deputy Chief of Police. If after these reviews it is determined that the use of force was excessive or violated policy, the incident is referred to Internal Affairs for Investigation.

Whether the use of force is determined to appropriate or not, the Lieutenant of Professional Standards reviews the incident to look for opportunities to enhance training, to optimize equipment, and to revise policy if needed.

In addition to the above, the Office of Professional Standards conducts an annual review of all incidents according to CALEA standards to evaluate any trends or patterns related to race, age, or gender. Also, for trends or patterns that resulted in an injury including an employee of the department.

The Annual Analysis is provided to the Chief of Police with findings and recommendations for improvement to training, policy, equipment, and personnel.

The NUPD is committed to continual improvement and does not wait for an incident to think progressively, to reflect on all of its activities, and to evolve over time.