The Birmingham Police Department holds all members to the highest levels of integrity, honesty, professionalism and empathy. Per the City’s Proclamation on Social Injustice issued on June 5, 2020, the death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers from the Minneapolis Police Department while in custody was tragic, unjustified and appalling. The actions and non-actions of the police officers involved is a disgrace to the law enforcement community.
There are a variety of policing initiatives being considered at the federal and state level. The City will comply with any mandates that result from these initiatives. At our local level, the information below provides detailed information regarding the Birmingham Police Department’s policies, procedures and training currently in place to ensure fair, unbiased and empathetic policing within the City of Birmingham.
Are Birmingham police officers forbidden to use certain kinds of invasive restraint techniques?
Yes. All carotid neck restraints or chokeholds are prohibited unless the officer is confronted with a “last resort” situation where certain immediate and drastic measure must be undertaken by an officer in order to protect human life.
Does the Birmingham Police Department have a policy regarding an officer’s duty to intervene?
Yes. The Birmingham Police Department has policies that require officers to intervene if a fellow officer is suspected of using excessive force. There is also policy regarding rendering medical aid to a person in need.
Do Birmingham Police Officers have body-worn microphones and cameras?
In progress. In 2019, the City updated the in-car video systems with technology that allows for the seamless integration of body cameras. The Birmingham City Commission recently approved the purchase of body-worn cameras for officers. Currently, officers wear body microphones synced with their patrol car video system. This allows for all audio interactions with the public to be recorded. The new body-worn cameras are expected to be in use by the fall of 2020.
Are Birmingham police officers required to report each time they threaten to or use force on civilians?
Yes. All officers are required to complete a “use of force” report whenever deadly force, less than lethal devices/weapons are utilized or when weaponless use of force is used for subject control. Example: If an officer pulls out a Taser in response to active aggression by a subject and the situation is de-escalated without deploying the Taser, the officer would still be required to complete a “use of force” report because his/her Taser was out and the use of the Taser was threatened in response to the subject’s active aggression. The department completes a review of every incident in which force is used. The use of force incident is reviewed by the officer's supervisor, the Operations Commander, a use of force instructor and the Police Chief. The police department is also enrolled in a voluntary national use of force reporting system (compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation) when the force applied results in a serious injury. The Birmingham Police Department has not had to make any reports of this nature.
Is there a clear and enforced use-of-force continuum that details which weapons and techniques are acceptable in civilian-police interactions?
Yes. All officers receive annual training according to the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards Subject Control Continuum. Officers are trained to understand that situations occur where the escalation and/or de-escalation or resistance is sudden, and consequently the officer’s appropriate response may occur anywhere along the continuum, which represents an “objectively reasonable” response to a perceived threat posed by a subject. As part of the annual training, officers participate in “scenario” based training to help them develop and master these necessary skills. In all cases, it is the hope that no force will be necessary in any interaction and that verbal communication techniques and strategies can be deployed to accomplish that goal. However, it is the policy of the police department to only employ the amount of force necessary that is reasonable and necessary to overcome the resistance offered, affect a lawful arrest, and/or accomplish the lawful performance of duty while protecting the public.
What type of training do Birmingham officers receive?
As stated above, all officers receive annual training according to the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards Subject Control Continuum. Officers are required to complete annual in-service training in firearms, use of force/de-escalation training, defensive tactics, Taser training and scenario based training that emphasizes communication skills, procedural knowledge, technical skills and common sense. Throughout the course of a year, officers receive additional specialization training based on department needs as well as in-service training emphasizing the policies and procedures of the police department. Officer training has also included topics ranging from cultural diversity, legal updates, mental health and autism safety training, human trafficking and positive communications. In September, the department will receive anti-bias training from Jocelyn Giangrande, MA, SPHR, CCDP, SHRM-SCP. Giangrande is a Cornell University Certified Diversity & Inclusion expert experienced in helping organizations create inclusive cultures.
Does the Birmingham Police Department tolerate bias based policing?
No. It is the intent of the department to respect and protect the constitutional rights of all individuals. The selection of individual(s) for enforcement action based in whole or in part on a trait common to a group, without actionable intelligence to support consideration of that trait, will not be tolerated. This includes, but is not limited to: race, ethnic background, national origin, gender, sexual orientation/identity, religion, economic status, age, cultural group, disability, veteran status or any identifiable characteristics.
Are Birmingham police officers vetted to ensure they don't have a history with abuse, racism, xenophobia, homophobia/transphobia, or discrimination?
Yes. All officers passed an extensive background investigation and psychological examination prior to employment with the City. All officers must complete a rigorous field-training program that requires the officers to be proficient in department policies and procedures.
Is there an early intervention system to identify potential problem officers?
Yes. The police department has an “early warning system” policy to provide systematic reviews of specific, significant events involving employees in order to responsibly evaluate, identify, and assist employees who exhibit signs of performance and/or stress-related problems. The police department has only 33 officers, so command officers interact daily with patrol officers and provide close supervision and accountability. All officer related work (i.e. reports, traffic citations, arrests) are reviewed daily by an officer’s immediate supervisor and the patrol commander. The Chief of Police reviews all department reports.
Is the Birmingham Police Department an accredited agency under the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police (MACP) Accreditation Program?
In progress. The Birmingham Police Department proactively began the process of MACP accreditation in 2019 and enrolled in the MACP Accreditation program in 2020. The MACP Accreditation program must be completed within two years. Accreditation acknowledges the implementation of written directives, policies and procedures that are conceptually sound and operationally effective. The foundation of accreditation lies in the voluntary adoption of standards containing a clear statement of professional objectives. Only four percent of police departments in Michigan are accredited.
How does the Birmingham Police Department engage with the community?
The Birmingham Police Department has worked diligently to engage the community. An informed and participative citizenry not only enhances the police department’s effectiveness in preventing and solving crime, but also instills a trust with residents that the police department truly cares about their welfare and safety. Programs such as the adopt-a-senior program, a community resource officer and K-9 therapy dog enhance those efforts. The community resource officer conducts active shooter trainings and home security assessments, in addition to speaking engagements with girl scouts, boy scouts, individuals with mental illness, local businesses, seniors, schools, block parties, neighborhood association meetings, etc.