All Murrieta Police Officers present and observing another officer using force that is clearly beyond that which is objectively reasonable under the circumstances SHALL, when in a position to do so, intercede to prevent the use of unreasonable force. An officer who observes another employee use force that exceeds the degree of force permitted by law should promptly report these observations to a supervisor.
This duty is spelled out in Murrieta Police Policy 300.2.1.
Communication and De-escalation
All Murrieta Police Officers are trained in de-escalation tactics. The ability to communicate effectively during times of crisis and critical incidents, including those times when force is required, are essential skills. The department requires all of its officers to utilize de-escalation tactics whenever possible.
This training is conducted by subject matter experts who teach de-escalation options, including active listening, conflict resolution and using distance and barriers if possible. In addition to de-escalation options, Murrieta Officers receive training in recognizing people in crisis, racial profiling and working with the homeless and mentally ill. The department sends all of its officers to the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles to get a better perspective on prejudice and discrimination issues occurring in our world today.
Murrieta PD exceeds the minimum required CA Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training mandate for training hours in these soft skills. The goal is to teach and train on techniques that assist officers in avoiding force if possible. In an effort to keep Murrieta Police Officers and the public we serve safe, the department is committed to train on these topics as part of its mandatory training curriculum.
Warning Before Use of Force
The Murrieta Police Department follows California Penal Code section 835a which states in part, “Where feasible, a peace officer shall, prior to the use of force, make reasonable efforts to identify themselves as a peace officer and to warn that deadly force may be used”.
This is specified in MPD policy 300.4 and not limited just to deadly force situations.
Use of Force Review
The Murrieta Police Department has in place a very detailed Use of Force (UoF) review process. Each UoF incident is first reviewed by a supervisor at the scene of the incident. A detailed police report as well as Body Worn Camera video is reviewed by the supervisor.
Murrieta PD uses the “LEFTA” software platform to detail and capture data on all UoF incidents. This platform allows for command staff oversight and organizational accountability. Data is collected yearly with the LEFTA software and an early intervention system is built into the process.
All use of force incidents are reviewed by a UoF Committee comprised of subject matter experts, including command staff personnel. The UoF Committee is chaired by a police captain. Training, equipment needs and further formal review recommendations come out of the UoF Committee process. Any policy violations are evaluated by the UoF Committee Captain and referred for further internal investigation if necessary. All criminal matters involving UoF are immediately referred to District Attorney by the Chief of Police. The District Attorney has oversight and authority reference criminal culpability on any incident, including UoF incidents, involving a Murrieta Police Officer.
At the end of each calendar year, the UoF Committee Captain authors a report to the Chief of Police that summarizes the department’s use of force incidents, including trends, training and equipment needs and policy revisions. In addition to the annual internal report provided to the Chief, California DOJ requires each police department to report annually all serious use of force incidents through the URSUS portal. Finally, per CA Penal Code section 13012(e), the California Department of Justice compiles statistics on citizen’s complaints against peace officers (CCAPO). These numbers are published annually for the public to review.
All force incidents involving Murrieta Police Department Officers have been reviewed using the committee process since 2016.
The Murrieta Police Department hires for character first. Lateral officers hired by the department are thoroughly screened and vetted to make sure they meet Murrieta Police Department standards.
The hiring process consists of an interview with command staff, a thorough State of California approved POST background investigation, a psychological exam, a polygraph exam, a medical exam and a Chief’s interview.
Completed backgrounds are reviewed by both Captains, as well as the Chief.
New hire officers are placed into a thorough training program and are given a 1 year probationary period to perform and meet the high standards of the department and city.
Shooting at Moving Vehicles
Murrieta Police Officers are trained and advised that shooting at or from a moving vehicle is rarely effective and highly discouraged. An Officer is only permitted to shoot at a moving vehicle when there is no other option available to avert the threat of themselves or another being killed or seriously injured by that vehicle.
Officers are required to move out of the path of a moving vehicle when able to do so and trained to not put themselves in a position that would endanger them if the vehicle was to accelerate towards them. They are not permitted to shoot at a vehicle with the intention of disabling it.
This direction is spelled out in Murrieta Police Policy 300.4.1.
Use of Force Continuum
Our use of force policy provides guidelines on the reasonable use of force and aligns with Ca Penal Code 835a. While there is no way to specify the exact amount or type of reasonable force to be applied in any situation, every member of this department is expected to use these guidelines to make such decisions in a professional, impartial and reasonable manner.
A Murrieta Officer’s goal is always focused on regaining control of any volatile or dangerous incident (including those requiring use of force) as soon as possible in the interest of protecting the community and the officer. Use of force is an officer’s last option — a necessary course of action to restore safety in a community when other practices are ineffective. Murrieta officers make their force decisions based on a number of factors as listed throughout MPD policy section 300.
A use of force continuum describes an escalating series of actions an officer may take to resolve a situation. This continuum generally has many levels, and officers are instructed to respond with a level of force appropriate to the situation at hand, acknowledging that the officer may move from one part of the continuum to another in a matter of seconds.
Well…… if you’ve been hanging in there with us this long, you’ve gotten just a small taste of the hundreds of policies and procedures we operate by daily here at the Murrieta Police Department. These are not new practices for us and have been in place for years. If any of you are interested in digging deeper, you can check out our entire policy manual at the link above.
A well-accepted fact of being a police officer is that the rules we play by change constantly and are often updated yearly. What’s illegal one year may be legal the next, a felony crime one year may be a misdemeanor charge the following year! As police officers, we have to remain flexible, adapt to changes, and continue learning throughout our entire career. The same concept applies to our policy manual, it’s a very fluid document that is updated often to remain relevant with current practices and law.
We pride ourselves on our partnership with our community. We are committed to procedural justice. We listen, we apply the law equally, we stay impartial and we respect those that we serve. If we can’t meet those standards on every contact and with every investigation, we want to hear from you. You have a voice with Murrieta PD.
Murrieta Police Department Mission Statement
In partnership with our community, we are dedicated to provide the highest quality police service to enhance community safety, protect life and property, and reduce crime.