From Bozeman Police Chief Steve Crawford:
With regard to the George Floyd in-custody death in Minneapolis, we are dismayed and deeply troubled by what occurred and what we saw on that video. There is no justification for the actions of the now former officer, nor for the failure of the other officers at the scene to intervene, that resulted in Mr. Floyd’s tragic death.
Our organization values the sanctity of human life and the importance of treating all persons with dignity and respect and this act was none of that. Bozeman has recently gathered to voice its commitment to being a safe, welcoming, and inclusive community. As a profession, we are sworn to protect our communities and all of those within. Please know that your police department is committed to keeping Bozeman safe in partnership with all our fellow community members.
Understandably, we have received numerous questions regarding the philosophy and specific training that our officers receive related to topics such as de-escalation, anti-racial profiling and use of force. Below are answers to most of the frequently asked questions. We hope this will serve to instill confidence in us as your police department and in the men and women who faithfully do their job in this community each day.
Chief Steve Crawford
Frequently Asked Questions
We do not currently have a body-worn camera program. We do have a robust digital audio recording policy and practice as well as dash-mounted digital video cameras with audio in all patrol vehicles that capture video/audio in front of the vehicles as well as inside the vehicles. A body-worn camera program is on the department’s capital improvement plan for a future fiscal year with considerations for community listening sessions, questions and answers, testing and evaluation, and other analyses of integration of the data storage with existing and future technologies to complement the existing recording practices and policy.
Our policy states:
The purpose of this policy is to establish guidelines regarding the use of video and audio recording equipment and cameras by members of this department. The Bozeman Police Department provides officers video cameras mounted in each patrol vehicle, digital cameras, video and audio recording equipment for interviews, and pocket digital recorders. These tools are provided to assist department personnel in the performance of their duties, enhance officer safety, provide recordings that may aid in the investigation and recollection of an incident for related prosecutions or civil actions, and to enhance the public trust by preserving factual representations of officer-citizen interactions.
A. RECORDINGS: For the purpose of this policy, recordings refer to any photographs or images; electronic recording of conversation or other spoken words or noises; and any electronic recording of visual images (with or without audio).
A. EQUIPMENT AND INSPECTIONS:
- Prior to each shift, officers shall examine all equipment to ensure it is working properly.
- In the event a unit is malfunctioning, the officer should make proper notifications to be sure the equipment is replaced or repaired.
B. WHEN TO RECORD:
- Officers will record all contacts in the performance of official duties, such as traffic stops, enforcement contacts, and while on calls for service.
- When utilizing the patrol car video system, the associated audio pack will be used.
- If video is not available, reliable, or in a useful location, officers will record audio using handheld recorders or similar devices whenever feasible or practical.
- Once a video/audio recording has been turned on, the recording device should remain on until the entire incident or primary purpose for recording is concluded.
- Officers shall electronically record interviews in a place of detention for the purpose of investigating a felony, or in the case of a youth, an offense that would be a felony if committed by an adult, if the interview is reasonably likely to elicit a response from the person being interviewed that may incriminate the person being interviewed with regard to the commission of an offense, in accordance with MCA 46-4-406 to 46-4-411.
- When an incident that is associated with a call for service or case is not recorded either by video or by audio, the officer shall document why a recording was not made.
C. EXCEPTIONS TO RECORD:
- Officer or citizen safety would be jeopardized in turning on a recording device.
- Equipment failure (whether prior to or during the incident) and there is no other appropriate recording device reasonably available.The officer operating the recording device fails to operate it properly or the device malfunctions without the officer’s knowledge.
D. PRESERVATION OF RECORDINGS:
- All recordings with any evidentiary value shall be preserved in the appropriate location. This includes partial evidentiary, duplicative, and exculpatory recordings.
- All recorded contacts that an officer reasonably believes may be beneficial in a non-criminal matter should be preserved in the appropriate location.
- As soon as practical, all recordings shall be appropriately tagged in the video camera system, attached to the appropriate case file, or downloaded to the associated electronic file folder. Recordings should not be kept in other locations.
- Personal use, possession, or distribution of recordings obtained during the course of duties is prohibited unless approved by a command officer.
We are committed to hiring men and women who possess the highest level of integrity. The testing we conduct when looking for new officers emphasizes service to our citizens and tests for the values in which we believe, which are SERVICE, INTEGRITY, LEADERSHIP and TEAMWORK. Once we have identified potential candidates, a thorough background investigation is completed and we look for indications of racial and other biases that may not have been identifiable in the initial hiring process. A rigorous psychological evaluation is also completed that looks for psychological behaviors and tendencies that would indicate a candidate’s vulnerability to use excessive force. If we find any of these things, they will not work for the Bozeman Police Department.
Yes. We believe and train to treating all people with dignity and respect and to avoid bias. All officers receive training on Fair and Impartial Policing, Anti-Racial Profiling, Cultural Diversity and Community Policing. We also conduct annual training on anti-racial profiling and have adopted a policy directly dealing with this issue.
The policy states:
It is the policy of this department that no officer or employee may engage in racial profiling whereby they detain, officially restrain or complete other disparate treatment of an individual solely on the basis of the racial or ethnic status of the individual.
A. Minority Group: Individuals of African American, Hispanic, Native American, Asian, or Middle Eastern descent.
B. Peace Officer: any person who by virtue of the person's office or public employment is vested by law with a duty to maintain public order and make arrests for offenses.
C. Racial profiling: The detention, official restraint, or other disparate treatment of an individual solely on the basis of the racial or ethnic status of the individual.
A. The race or ethnicity of an individual may not be the sole factor in:
- Determining the existence of probable cause to take into custody or arrest an individual; or
- Constituting a particularized suspicion that an offense has been or is being committed in order to justify the detention of an individual or the investigatory stop of a motor vehicle.
B. Peace Officers shall not engage in a practice of routinely stopping members of minority groups for violations of vehicle laws as a pretext for investigating other violations of criminal law, particularly if the reason for the stop is based primarily on their race or ethnicity.
C. All vehicular and person stops shall include advising Gallatin County 9-1-1 of the race of the person being stopped, whenever feasible.
D. Any allegation of racial profiling or related disciplinary decisions, if applicable, shall be handled in accordance with Department Complaint Investigation and Discipline Policy.
Yes. We take a stand against all uses of excessive force by police. We do not tolerate or condone it on our department, and we strive to preserve the constitutional rights of all citizens. All uses of force on our department are reviewed and we hold ourselves to the highest standard of treating people with dignity and respect.
We train our officers on de-escalation techniques and communication skills to help them safely diffuse situations. Our goal at every call and contact is the safety of all involved. From the day they are hired, they receive training on a number of topics related to Use of Force and De-escalation that include:
Initial Training: Upon being hired, officer receive three weeks of initial training, including:
- Decision-making and Communication
- Use of Force Policy and Case Law
Montana Law Enforcement Academy: While attending the 12 weeks State academy, training includes;
- Interpersonal Communication Skills
- Patrol Negotiations
- Legal Issues in Use of Force
- Fair & Impartial Policing/Racial Profiling/Cultural Diversity
- Community Policing
Field Training Program: Upon return form the 12 week academy, officers complete a 14 week Field Training, during which daily evaluation and training includes:
- Field Performance in Stressful Conditions
- Control of Conflict (both verbal and physical)
- Relationships with Citizens
Ongoing Training: Additionally, all officer receive on-going in-service training, including:
- Annual Anti-Racial Profiling
- Decision-making under high stress conditions
- Emotional control
- Case Law on legal issues regarding use of force
We strive to build an atmosphere of trust with all citizens in our community and we have implemented numerous outreach programs to ensure this happens. We have taken steps to identify areas where improved relations can be beneficial. Our Kids, Cops and Cats program, for example, is a chance for us to build relationships with youth who are economically disadvantaged, with the goal being to establish positive relationships outside of normal police calls. We recognize the importance of these community driven initiatives and the positive impact they can have on our citizens and our officers.
First, our department’s standards of conduct policy (listed below) guides our expectations of all officers:
Standards of Conduct
Employees shall perform all duties impartially, without favor, affection or ill will and without regard to status, sex, race, color, religion, political ideas, age, marital status, national origin, actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, physical disability or mental disability.
Employees will not allow personal feelings, animosities or friendships to influence official conduct. Laws will be enforced appropriately and courteously and, in carrying out their responsibilities, employees will strive to maintain maximum cooperation from, and with, the public or other law enforcement agencies. Employees will conduct themselves in such a manner as to inspire confidence and respect for the position of trust they hold. Employees shall not use their police authority to resolve personal grievances.
All officers are expected to treat every person they interact with respect and in a way that they would like to be treated, and they are expected to adhere to state and federal laws, department policy, as well as the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics at all times (which is listed below).
Secondly, all officers swear to abide by The Law Enforcement Code of Ethics, which states:
My fundamental responsibility as a public safety officer is to serve the community, safeguard lives and property, protect the innocent, keep the peace, and ensure the constitutional rights of all are not abridged;
I will perform all duties impartially, without favor or ill will and without regard to status, sex, race, religion, creed, political belief or aspiration. I will treat all citizens equally and with courtesy, consideration, and dignity. I will never allow personal feelings, animosities, or friendships to influence my official conduct;
I will enforce or apply all laws and regulations appropriately, courteously, and responsibly;
I will never employ unnecessary force or violence, and will use only such force in the discharge of my duties as is objectively reasonable in all circumstances. I will refrain from applying unnecessary infliction of pain or suffering and will never engage in cruel, degrading, or inhuman treatment of any person;
Whatever I see, hear, or learn, which is of a confidential nature, I will keep in confidence unless the performance of duty or legal provision requires otherwise;
I will not engage in nor will I condone any acts of corruption, bribery, or criminal activity; and shall disclose to the appropriate authorities all such acts. I will refuse to accept any gifts, favors, gratuities, or promises that could be interpreted as favor or cause me to refrain from performing my official duties;
I will strive to work in unison with all legally authorized agencies and their representatives in the pursuit of justice;
I will be responsible for my professional development and will take reasonable opportunities to improve my level of knowledge and competence;
I will at all times ensure that my character and conduct is admirable and will not bring discredit to my community, my agency, or my chosen profession.Third, the City of Bozeman Handbook states that employees can be disciplined for showing disrespect to the public or not getting along with the public.