The Upper Merion Township Police Department recognizes and respects the value and exceptional integrity of each human life. In vesting police officers with the lawful authority to use force to protect the public welfare, a careful balancing of all human interests is required. Therefore, it is the policy of this department that police officers shall use only that force that is reasonably necessary to effectively bring an incident under control, while protecting the lives of the officer or another. Officers will make every effort to de-escalate a situation whenever feasible prior to using force.
The Upper Merion Township Police Department handles approximately 30,000 calls per year. The percentage of calls that involve the physical custody of an individual is about three percent. Of that small percentage, less than two percent of arrests require the use of force to effectuate custody.
The application of force moves across a spectrum, with the lowest form being open hand controls, to the greatest being deadly force. Officers would use open hand controls to manage a person’s arms if they are resisting arrest. Other types of force that might be used by an officer are the deployment of a taser, less-lethal rounds, a baton, or the use of a firearm.
When force is used while taking a subject into custody, the officer is mandated to document the incident. The officer’s supervisor reviews the use of force for compliance with department policy. The incident is then reviewed by at least two command officers. Critical attention is given to ensure that there are no biased based trends occurring when officers use force. The use of force documentation is kept indefinitely. In addition, in 2019 the Upper Merion Township Police Department became one of the first in the state of Pennsylvania to voluntarily begin reporting force data to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Use-of-Force data collection program.