Use of Force

While the San Francisco Police Department’s key focus is the prevention of crime; the department’s highest priority is to safeguard human life.  Prior to the DOJ/COPS collaboration, the department created a policy committee to research and propose changes to all department polices related to the Use of Force and Force Options:

  • On June 15, 2015, the department began requiring all radio cars carry an Extended Range Impact Weapon (ERIW)
  • The department ordered additional extended range impact weapons (ERIW)
  • As a resource to create a barrier during de-escalation attempts, the department’s Tactical Unit is researching the use of shields
  • On December 11, 2015, the department made the pointing of a firearm a reportable use-of-force incident
  • On February 8, 2016, the department implemented a new Bi-Annual Force Options Training curriculum to include time and distance to allow for de-escalation, Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) principles and Video/Scenario-based learning.

Prior to the DOPJ/COPS initial assessment, department drafts of Use Of Force policies were submitted to the Police Commission. Through extensive reviews, stakeholder feedback, community input and DOJ/COPS advice, the department’s General Order 5.01 was revised and changes were passed by the Police Commission on 12/21/2016.

This Department General Order builds upon the Supreme Court's broad principles in Graham v. Connor (1989) 490 U.S. 386 and is more restrictive than the constitutional standard and state law. The Law Enforcement Code of Ethics requires all sworn law enforcement officers to carry out their duties with courtesy, respect, professionalism, and to never employ unnecessary force (Use of Force, San Francisco Police Department General Order 5.01, Rev. 12/21/16).

The revised policy provided some key changes:

Section VI.   FORCE OPTIONS

B. PHYSICAL CONTROLS/PERSONAL BODY WEAPONS.

3. PROHIBITED USE OF CHOKE HOLDS. Officers are prohibited from using the following control holds:

a. Carotid restraint

G.  FIREARMS AND OTHER DEADLY FORCE

2. DISCHARGE OF FIREARMS OR OTHER USE OF DEADLY FORCE.

(e.) MOVING VEHICLES. An officer shall not discharge a firearm at the operator or occupant of a moving vehicle unless the operator or occupant poses an immediate threat of death or serious bodily injury to the public or an officer by means other than the vehicle. Officers shall not discharge a firearm from his or her moving vehicle.

To review the department’s revised Use of Force policy, click on: SFPD General Order 5.01