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Guidelines for Incidents Involving the Use of Deadly Force or an In Custody Death


All officer-involved uses of deadly force and incidents of an in-custody death are investigated by the Professional Standards Division of the Greensboro Police Department. They may also be investigated by the State Bureau of Investigation, the Guilford County District Attorney and/or the Guilford County Grand Jury.


To assist all of you during the critical hours immediately after an incident, please contact a member of the GPOA Executive Board as soon as possible after an officer-involved use of deadly force or in-custody death has occurred. The GPOA representative will contact the attorney and have them respond to your location.


Should you be involved in a critical incident, immediately request assistance. Once it is safe to do so, render aid to any injured parties. Next, preserve the scene. All too often in the excitement and chaos which surrounds a critical incident, other officers will come by with good intentions but disturb your scene. Keep the traffic (foot and otherwise) in the crime scene to an absolute minimum. Instead of allowing well intentioned fellow officers to wander all over your scene, recruit them to set up a perimeter for you and ask them to help you keep others out of the scene.


If the suspect has a weapon, see that it is kept where it is. Do not move it unless its continued location poses a safety hazard or the risk of loss or destruction of the weapon itself as an item of evidence. If the weapon does have to be moved, take the necessary steps to not disturb any fingerprints, dna, markings, etc. on the weapon. Mark all shell casings, where appropriate, should the incident involve the use of a firearm.


The main idea is to try and freeze the scene exactly as it was at the time the incident occurred. The location of the shell casings, weapons of the suspect, contraband, etc. all play an integral part in establishing your justification for using deadly force.

While you are awaiting the arrival of the attorney, do not discuss the case with anyone until you can speak with the attorney. "Anyone" means not even your best buddies or your supervisors. Anyone you have spoken to just became a witness, and words said in jest to relieve tension, or carelessly out of panic or relief to be alive, have a habit of coming back to haunt you later. Out of the context of the situation, on a sterile written statement or the witness stand under circumscribed rules of questioning and cross-examination, the context of your spoken words may get lost in the shuffle, along with the intent you had when you spoke them.

While you are waiting for the attorney to arrive, try to reconstruct in your mind the step-by-step order of the events that led up to the incident. If you have fired your service weapon, do not reload or do anything with your weapon except to reholster it. This is important because it will establish for you the number of times you fired and will disprove false allegations by anyone at the scene who may falsely or incorrectly allege that you fired more times than the evidence remaining in your weapon will reveal.


We understand and appreciate that an officer-involved use of deadly force does no always induce a calming effect on the people involved. However, you need to attempt to keep your mental and emotional balance, your perspective and your patience.

Either in the telephone conversation or at the scene, we will discuss your rights regarding the giving or not giving of a statement concerning the shooting. Usually, after consulting with one of the lawyers, you will give a voluntary statement. However, there may be instances where our advice would be for you not to give such a voluntary statement. That is why we need to speak with you as soon as possible following the incident and before you have make any statements to anyone.

In conclusion, remember that the majority of officer-involved uses of deadly force are justified, but that is not a reason for you to be careless. Keep in mind the basic points that I have stressed, and you should have no trouble getting through the ordeal that follows.


Remember that you are doing a job that very few people want to do, much less are qualified to do. You should act with extreme caution and use good judgment. Remember also that the Greensboro Police Officers Association is there to help you.

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