The Darien, CT Police Department is a professional, accredited and highly trained organization made up of caring and engaged officers and support staff. The following is the long standing mission statement of our agency. These are not mere words and platitudes; the staff of this department strive diligently to always fulfill our mission statement.

“The mission of the Darien Police Department is to work cooperatively with the public and within the framework of the Constitution to enforce the laws, preserve the peace, reduce fear, and provide a safe environment in our neighborhoods. The Darien Police Department exists to serve the community by protecting life and property; by preventing crime; by enforcing the laws; and by maintaining order for all people. Central to our mission are the values which guide our work and decisions. These help us contribute to the high quality of life in Darien. The public trust and confidence given to those in the police service requires the adoption and compliance of stated values, which are the foundation upon which our policies, goals, and operations are built.

a. We value human life and dignity, as guaranteed by the Constitution.

b. We believe that integrity is the basis for community trust.

c. We respect the principles which are embodied in the Constitution of the United States.

d. We recognize the authority of federal, state, and local laws.

e. We strive for personal and professional excellence.

f. We are accountable to the people of the community and to each other.

g. We believe that cooperation with the community and the members of our organization will enable us to combine our diverse backgrounds, skills, and styles to achieve common goals beneficial to the community and the Darien Police Department.

h. We are most effective when we can identify and solve community problems.

i. We are dedicated, caring, and capable people who are performing important and satisfying work for the people of the Town of Darien.

The recognition and statement of values by a police department is important. Values are the foundation of everything for which we stand and believe. The leadership of the Darien Police Department has the expectation that members of the Department will adhere to the highest ethical standards.”

Recent events in our country have led to the creation of a “Campaign Zero” initiative which was designed to assist law enforcement agencies in reducing use of force incidents. I would like to clearly state where the Darien, CT Police Department stands on these “Eight That Can’t Wait.” Read more: https://www.marthastewart.com/349740/stracciatella-soup

1. Banning Chokeholds and Strangleholds

This is a specific area where the Darien Police Department, being an accredited police agency, was already in full compliance in this area. The longstanding general order of our department is, and has been for many years, very clear and succinct; “Chokeholds are not permitted unless deadly force is warranted.”

2. Require De-Escalation

The Darien Police Department has fourteen officers who are specifically trained in Critical Incident Training (CIT) with additional officers scheduled for this vital training in the near future. Managing crisis incidents with de-escalation a prime goal is one of the principles of this training. All officers receive de-escalation training on a continuous and ongoing basis. In addition, based on minimum standards recently set forth in the POST-C Compliance to Law Enforcement Standards and Practices (CLESP) program, we have further codified the requirement that “officers deploy de-escalation/calming strategies and/or verbal warnings prior to the use of force when feasible. De-escalation has been defined as “taking action or communicating verbally or non-verbally during a potential force encounter in an attempt to stabilize the situation and reduce the immediacy of the threat so that more time, options, and resources can be called upon to resolve the situation without the use of force or with a reduction in the force necessary. De-escalation may include the use of such techniques as command presence, advisements, warnings, verbal persuasion and tactical repositioning. Whenever an officer believes that de-escalation is feasible, based on his or her training and judgement, such techniques shall be the first deployed by the officer to gain compliance. Where time is a resource, officers shall use it to their advantage. Force shall not be used solely because a situation is taking additional time to resolve.”

3. Require Warning before Shooting

This General Order has the value of human life ingrained in its message. Police officers have been delegated the responsibility to protect life and property and apprehend criminal offenders. The apprehension of criminal offenders and the protection of property must be subservient to the protection of life weighed against the narrowly defined exceptions in this general order. The officer's responsibility for protecting life must include the officer's own life.

• Officers should first attempt to gain a subject’s cooperation through the use of verbal direction (if practicable) prior to using physical force. Compliance may be obtained through a variety of approaches (e.g., persuasion, warning, commands). When appropriate, verbal commands should initially be issued in a courteous manner (this is not to imply that officers must compromise personal safety or control of a scene for the sake of civility).

• Last Resort: In situations in which deadly force is permissible it should be used only when any other alternative would be impractical or ineffective.

• It shall be the policy of the Department that this General Order will be strictly enforced. Officers must understand that deadly physical force is a most extreme measure and should only be used as a LAST RESORT. It should be borne in mind that there is always a danger of injuring innocent persons when firing a weapon, and every officer is admonished to always use the utmost caution in such cases.

• It shall be the policy of the Darien Police Department that because of the danger to innocent bystanders, warning shots are never fired.

• Where feasible, the officer will give verbal warning of intent to use deadly physical force.

4. Exhaust All Other Means before Shooting

The General Orders of the Darien Police Department are very clear and succinct on this topic;

• Last Resort: In situations in which deadly force is permissible it should be used only when any other alternative would be impractical or ineffective.

• It shall be the policy of the Department that this General Order will be strictly enforced. Officers must understand that deadly physical force is a most extreme measure and should only be used as a LAST RESORT. It should be borne in mind that there is always a danger of injuring innocent persons when firing a weapon, and every officer is admonished to always use the utmost caution in such cases.

5. Duty to Intervene

The duty for an officer to intervene when observing misconduct or the use of excessive force has always been a part of the code of conduct under the law enforcement oath of office. In compliance with the Connecticut Police Officer Standards and Training Council ((POST-C) CLESP (Compliance to Law Enforcement Standards and Practices) program, we have expressly further codified that an officer must intervene and report unreasonable, excessive and/or illegal uses of force. Further, an officer who directly observes a use of force that is unreasonable, excessive or otherwise in violation of our Use of Force policy, and/or a violation of state or federal statutes, shall contact a supervisor as soon as practical and submit a written report to a supervisor in a timely fashion. Retaliation against any officer who intervenes against the excessive use of force, reports misconduct, or cooperates in an internal investigation will not be tolerated.

6. Ban Shooting at Moving Vehicle

It has been the longstanding policy of the Darien Police Department that the operator of a police vehicle is not to fire at another moving vehicle. The policy, directly from the department’s General Orders, is listed below.

“Shooting at Vehicles:

• Is permitted only when deadly force is necessary and allowable according to General Order 2.2, Use of Deadly Force, and the Connecticut General Statutes;

• The firing of warning shots or the firing of a weapon at a fleeing vehicle’s tires is prohibited;

• The officer operating a motor vehicle in pursuit is not to fire a weapon under any circumstances.

• No officer should intentionally position his or her body into the path of a fleeing motor vehicle. Whenever possible, the involved officer should make an effort to move to an area of safety if the vehicle becomes a threat, including retreating from the threat, if practical.

7. Require Use of Force Continuum

It has been the longstanding position, backed by annual defensive tactics and use of force training, that only the minimal force required (if any) should be utilized. Officers should first attempt to gain a subject’s cooperation through the use of verbal direction (if practicable) prior to using physical force. Compliance may be obtained through a variety of approaches (e.g., persuasion, warning, commands). When appropriate, verbal commands should initially be issued in a courteous manner (this is not to imply that officers must compromise personal safety or control of a scene for the sake of civility). The use of force “continuum” or “matrix” has constructively been in use in the Darien Police Department for decades. The least amount of force (if any) is what is required. In accordance with CLESP standards published June 12, 2020, our General Orders are being updated to specifically further codify the standard.

8. Require Comprehensive Reporting

The Darien Police Department ensures that all uses of force are thoroughly and accurately documented per department policy and state statutes. All use of force incidents, including where force is displayed but not utilized, are reported. An example of this is where an officer might draw his/her Conducted Electrical Weapon (Taser) but not actually deploy it. This provides a very accurate analysis of those incidents that are successful de-escalated without force being employed.

When physical contact/defensive tactics are used to subdue a subject, the officer will:

• Provide medical attention as detailed the General Order.

• b. Notify a supervisor.

A written incident report and a State of Connecticut Use of Force incident report shall be generated.

Please know that we strive to be an open and transparent and approachable police agency. Should you wish to speak further on these topics or other matters of concern, I can be reached at (203) 662-5310 or via email at danderson@darienct.gov. I will put you in contact with the person in our agency who is best equipped to assist you or answer your question.