Attorney General follows through and updates his department’s use-of-force protocol for police departments

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – A release from the Attorney General’s office said on Wednesday that Attorney General Peter F. Neronha issued a significantly updated expanded protocol for the review of use of force by state and municipal law enforcement agencies.

A long-standing practice for Rhode Island law enforcement agencies is to report incidents of deadly force and custodial deaths to the Attorney General. Reports of incidents are left for review and investigation. Under the new protocol, agencies must also report incidents involving alleged use of excessive force, including less-than-deadly force resulting in severe bodily injury.

“Even before the tragic events of the last month, the Office had been engaged in an internal review, in consultation with Rhode Island’s chiefs of police, of the existing Attorney General protocol for review of deadly force. Current events made the release of the updated protocol all the more urgent,” said Attorney General Neronha. “The updated protocol is significant because it expands our review authority to allow for independent review of most police use of force incidents. Our collective goal is to identify, and hold accountable, those officers who use excessive force before it results in death, as happened in the case of George Floyd.”

The Attorney General’s office recognized the need to to update protocols and promote better uniformity, accountability and impartiality in investigations of police use-of-force incidents.

More powerful guidance involving the investigation of such incidents and how they should proceed are part of the updated protocol.

Rhode Island law enforcement agencies will now be required to immediately report such incidents to the the Attorney General under the updated protocol.

The Attorney General’s office will then conduct an independent review of the occurred incident and will make charging decisions where appropriate.

Until now the protocol had not been updated since 2007.

“I firmly believe that the Attorney General and those in law enforcement have a responsibility to build community trust,” said Attorney General Neronha. “A critical component of building that trust is to hold those officers who ignore their training, best practices, use of force policies and the law accountable.”

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