Hollywood Police Chief Chris O’Brien gave a presentation on the Hollywood Police Department at a recent special commission meeting. He discussed the work he and the police leadership and officers are doing in the city.
O’Brien said mission of the police is to work in partnership with the community, providing innovative and effective policing to present crime and disorder. The philosophy is to embrace a community-based, problem-oriented policing philosophy. The priorities are to use data-driven, proactive police strategies to address chronic offenders, manage crime and disorder hot spots and apply a wide range of crime prevention measures.
One concern is the use of strangleholds. O’Brien said the Hollywood Police Department’s Response to Resistance policy does not strictly forbid the use of choke holds or neck restraints.
However, a defensive tactic of this type could only be used in a life or death situation where deadly force if justified. To be clear, per Florida State Statute the use of deadly force is only justified “when a person reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily to themselves or another, to prevent the imminent commission or a forceable felony.” In addition, the officers of the Hollywood Police Department do not practice or train in this type of technique.
Also, de-escalation training is a vital component in use of force training that all sworn law enforcement officers undergo. In addition, many Hollywood Police officers have also been trained in crisis intervention. A warning is required before a shooting. The Department’s Response to Resistance policy states that when feasible, officers will verbalize a warning which identifies them as a police officer coupled with a verbal command to desist. Officers are training in de-escalation techniques and crisis intervention.
All sworn officers are required to carry some form of less lethal option which may be used in lieu of deadly force if the situation allows. Hollywood police officers are required to maintain control or intervene if the force being utilized is clearly excessive. If an officer failed to intervene during an excessive force incident, it could result in criminal and civil liability.
O’Brien said that departmental police prohibits officers from shooting at or from a moving vehicle unless deadly force is being used against the officer or another, the officer cannot take evasive action and therefore has no other alternative, and the lives of innocent by-standers will not be endangered.
For many years the Department utilized a use of force continuum as the basis of its use of force policy. However, in 2018, the Department adopted the Force guidelines model which takes into account a variety of criteria and situational factors in determining the appropriate response options for sworn officers
It is the policy of the Hollywood Police Department that any incident requiring a Response to Resistance be documented and reviewed in a timely, complete and accurate manner. Response to Resistance reports are monitored and reviewed by supervisors, command staff and the Department’s Internal Affairs Unit. A copy of the Department’s policy on reporting procedures is available on the Department’s web page.
All complaints of employee misconduct or unsatisfactory job performance will be recorded and examined, including complaints received in person, by letter, by telephone, by Complaint Intake Form or by email. All department members will assist any citizen in filing a complaint by immediately contacting the involved member’s supervisor and if the supervisor is not available, then an on-duty supervisor
The Hollywood Police Department has also participated in many community outreach programs including National Night Out, Coffee With a Cop, Shop With a Cop, Holiday Toy Drive, PAL Summer Camp and other events and programs.