OFFICER INVOLVED SHOOTING PROTOCOLS:
Whenever a member of the Sterling Police Department is involved in a deadly force encounter where the officer(s) discharges his/her firearm, a multi-agency team, which may include the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, will investigate the incident per Senate Bill 15-219. These teams may also be used any time the Chief of Police requests their assistance to investigate any deadly use of force situation. The incident will be investigated according to the protocol detailed below.
307.1 PURPOSE AND SCOPE
The purpose of this policy is to establish policy and procedures for the investigation of an incident in which a person is injured or dies as the result of an officer-involved shooting or dies as a result of other action of an officer. In other incidents not covered by this policy, the Chief of Police may decide that the investigation will follow the process provided in this policy.
The policy of the Sterling Police Department is to ensure that officer-involved shootings and deaths are investigated in a thorough, fair and impartial manner.
307.3 TYPES OF INVESTIGATIONS
Officer-involved shootings and deaths involve several separate investigations. The investigations may include:
• A criminal investigation of the suspect’s actions.
• A criminal investigation of the involved officer’s actions.
• An administrative investigation as to policy compliance by involved officers.
• A civil investigation to determine potential liability.
307.4 CONTROL OF INVESTIGATIONS
Investigators from surrounding agencies may be assigned to work on the investigation of officer involved shootings and deaths. This may include one or more investigators from the agency that employs the involved officer.
Jurisdiction is determined by the location of the shooting or death and the agency employing the involved officer. The following scenarios outline the jurisdictional responsibilities for investigating officer-involved shootings and deaths.
307.4.1 CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION OF SUSPECT ACTIONS
The investigation of any possible criminal conduct by the suspect is controlled by the agency in whose jurisdiction the suspect’s crime occurred. For example, the Sterling Police Department would control the investigation if the suspect’s crime occurred in Sterling.
If multiple crimes have been committed in multiple jurisdictions, identification of the agency that will control the investigation may be reached in the same way as with any other crime. The investigation may be conducted by the agency in control of the criminal investigation of the involved officer, at the discretion of the Chief of Police and with concurrence from the other agency.
307.4.2 CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION OF OFFICER ACTIONS
The control of the criminal investigation into the involved officer’s conduct during the incident will be determined by the employing agency’s protocol. When an officer from this department is involved, the criminal investigation will be handled according to the Criminal Investigation section of this policy.
Requests made of this department to investigate a shooting or death involving an outside agency’s officer shall be referred to the Chief of Police or the authorized designee for approval.
307.4.3 ADMINISTRATIVE AND CIVIL INVESTIGATION
Regardless of where the incident occurs, the administrative and civil investigation of each involved officer is controlled by the respective employing agency.
307.5 INVESTIGATION PROCESS
The following procedures are guidelines used in the investigation of an officer-involved shooting or death.
307.5.1 UNINVOLVED OFFICER RESPONSIBILITIES
Upon arrival at the scene of an officer-involved shooting or death, the first uninvolved SPD officer will be the officer-in-charge and will assume the responsibilities of a supervisor until properly relieved. This officer should, as appropriate:
(a) Secure the scene and identify and eliminate hazards for all those involved.
(b) Take reasonable steps to obtain emergency medical attention for injured individuals.
(c) Request additional resources from the Department or other agencies.
(d) Coordinate a perimeter or pursuit of suspects.
(e) Check for injured persons and evacuate as needed.
(f) Brief the supervisor upon arrival.
307.5.2 SUPERVISOR RESPONSIBILITIES
Upon arrival at the scene, the first uninvolved SPD supervisor should ensure completion of the duties as outlined above, plus:
(a) Attempt to obtain a brief overview of the situation from any uninvolved officers.
1. In the event that there are no uninvolved officers who can supply adequate overview, the supervisor should attempt to obtain a brief voluntary overview from one involved officer.
(b) If necessary, the supervisor may administratively order any SPD officer to immediately provide public safety information necessary to secure the scene, identify injured parties and pursue suspects.
1. Public safety information shall be limited to such things as outstanding suspect information, number and direction of any shots fired, perimeter of the incident scene, identity of known or potential witnesses and any other pertinent information.
2. The initial on-scene supervisor should not attempt to order any involved officer to provide any information other than public safety information.
(c) Provide all available information to the Shift Supervisor and Sterling Emergency Communication Center. If feasible, sensitive information should be communicated over secure networks.
(d) Take command of and secure the incident scene with additional SPD members until properly relieved by another supervisor or other assigned personnel or investigator.
(e) As soon as practicable, ensure that involved officers are transported (separately, if feasible) to a suitable location for further direction.
1. Each involved SPD officer should be given an administrative order not to discuss the incident with other involved officers or SPD members pending further direction from a supervisor.
2. When an involved officer’s weapon is taken or left at the scene for other than officer safety reasons (e.g., evidence), ensure that he/she is provided with a comparable replacement weapon or transported by other officers.
307.5.3 SHIFT SUPERVISOR RESPONSIBILITIES
Upon learning of an officer-involved shooting or death, the Shift Supervisor shall be responsible for coordinating all aspects of the incident until relieved by the Chief of Police or a Division Commander.
All outside inquiries about the incident shall be directed to the Division Commander or Chief of Police.
The following persons shall be notified as soon as practicable:
• Chief of Police
• Support Services Division Commander
• Operations Commander
• Outside agency investigators (if appropriate)
• District Attorney or in his/her absence the on call DA
• City Manager
• City Attorney
• Psychological/peer support personnel
• Coroner (if necessary)
• Public Information Officer
307.5.5 INVOLVED OFFICERS
The following shall be considered for the involved officer:
(a) Any request for legal representation will be accommodated.
1. Involved SPD officers shall not be permitted to meet collectively or in a group with an attorney or any representative prior to providing a formal interview or report.
2. Requests from involved non-SPD officers should be referred to their employing agency.
(b) Discussions with licensed attorneys will be considered privileged as attorney-client communications.
(c) Discussions with agency representatives/employee groups will be privileged only as to the discussion of non-criminal information.
(d) A licensed psychotherapist shall be provided by the Department to each involved SPD officer. A licensed psychotherapist may also be provided to any other affected SPD members, upon request.
1. Interviews with a licensed psychotherapist will be considered privileged.
2. An interview or session with a licensed psychotherapist may take place prior to the member providing a formal interview or report. However, involved members shall not be permitted to consult or meet collectively or in a group with a licensed psychotherapist prior to providing a formal interview or report.
3. A separate fitness-for-duty exam may also be required (see the Fitness for Duty Policy).
(e) Although the Department will honor the sensitivity of communications with peer counselors, there is no legal privilege to such communications. Peer counselors are cautioned against discussing the facts of any incident with an involved or witness officer.
Care should be taken to preserve the integrity of any physical evidence present on the involved officer’s equipment or clothing, such as blood or fingerprints, until investigators can properly retrieve it.
Each involved SPD officer shall be given reasonable paid administrative leave following an officer involved shooting or death.
307.6 CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
If available, investigative personnel from this department may be assigned to partner with investigators from outside agencies or the District Attorney’s Office to avoid duplicating efforts in related criminal investigations.
Once public safety issues have been addressed, criminal investigators should be given the opportunity to obtain a voluntary statement from involved officers and to complete their interviews. The following shall be considered for the involved officer:
(a) SPD supervisors and Support Service’s personnel should not participate directly in any voluntary interview of SPD officers. This will not prohibit such personnel from monitoring interviews or providing the criminal investigators with topics for inquiry.
(b) If requested, any involved officer will be afforded the opportunity to consult individually with a representative of his/her choosing or an attorney prior to speaking with criminal investigators. However, in order to maintain the integrity of each involved officer’s statement, involved officers shall not consult or meet with a representative or an attorney collectively or in groups prior to being interviewed.
(c) If any involved officer is physically, emotionally or otherwise not in a position to provide a voluntary statement when interviewed by criminal investigators, consideration should be given to allowing a reasonable period for the officer to schedule an alternate time for the interview.
(d) Any voluntary statement provided by an involved officer will be made available for inclusion in any related investigation, including administrative investigations. However, no administratively coerced statement will be provided to any criminal investigators unless the officer consents.
307.6.1 REPORTS BY INVOLVED SPD OFFICERS
In the event that suspects remain outstanding or subject to prosecution for related offenses, this department shall retain the authority to require involved SPD officers to provide sufficient information for related criminal reports to facilitate the apprehension and prosecution of those individuals.
While the involved SPD officer may write the report, it is generally recommended that such reports be completed by assigned investigators, who should interview all involved officers as victims/ witnesses. Since the purpose of these reports will be to facilitate criminal prosecution, statements of involved officers should focus on evidence to establish the elements of criminal activities by suspects. Care should be taken not to duplicate information provided by involved officers in other reports.
Nothing in this section shall be construed to deprive an involved SPD officer of the right to consult with legal counsel prior to completing any such criminal report.
Reports related to the prosecution of criminal suspects will be processed according to normal procedures but should also be included for reference in the investigation of the officer-involved shooting or death.
307.6.2 WITNESS IDENTIFICATION AND INTERVIEWS
Because potential witnesses to an officer-involved shooting or death may become unavailable or the integrity of their statements compromised with the passage of time, a supervisor should take reasonable steps to promptly coordinate with criminal investigators to utilize available law enforcement personnel for the following:
(a) Identification of all persons present at the scene and in the immediate area.
1. When feasible, a recorded statement should be obtained from those persons who claim not to have witnessed the incident but who were present at the time it occurred.
2. Any potential witness who is unwilling or unable to remain available for a formal interview should not be detained absent reasonable suspicion to detain or probable Sterling Police Department cause to arrest. Without detaining the individual for the sole purpose of identification, attempts to identify the witness prior to his/her departure should be made whenever feasible.
(b) Witnesses who are willing to provide a formal interview should be asked to meet at a suitable location where criminal investigators may obtain a recorded statement. Such witnesses, if willing, may be transported by a member of the Department.
1. A written, verbal or recorded statement of consent should be obtained prior to transporting a witness. When the witness is a minor, consent should be obtained from the parent or guardian, if available, prior to transportation.
(c) Promptly contacting the suspect’s known family and associates to obtain any available and untainted background information about the suspect’s activities and state of mind prior to the incident.
307.6.3 INVESTIGATIVE PERSONNEL
Once notified of an officer-involved shooting or death, it shall be the responsibility of the Support Services Commander to assign appropriate investigative personnel to handle the investigation of related crimes. Department investigators will be assigned to work with outside investigators and may be assigned to separately handle the investigation of any related crimes not being investigated by the team investigating the officer-involved shooting or death.
All related department reports, except administrative and/or privileged reports, will be forwarded to the Support Services Commander for approval. Privileged reports shall be maintained exclusively by members who are authorized such access. Administrative reports will be forwarded to the Chief of Police or the Division Commander.
307.6.4 MULTI-AGENCY INVESTIGATION
Officer-involved shootings that result in injury or death shall be investigated by a multi-agency team. The multi-agency team shall include at least one other police or sheriff’s agency and/or the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. The Chief of Police or the authorized designee shall ensure this protocol is posted on the Sterling Police Department website and is available to the public upon request (CRS §16-2.5-301).
307.7 ADMINISTRATIVE INVESTIGATION
In addition to all other investigations associated with an officer-involved shooting or death, this department will conduct an internal administrative investigation of involved SPD officers to determine conformance with department policy. This investigation will be conducted under the supervision of the Support Services Division and will be considered a confidential officer personnel file.
Interviews of members shall be subject to department policies (see the Personnel Complaints Policy) and applicable laws.
(a) Any officer involved in a shooting or death may be requested or administratively compelled to provide a blood sample for alcohol/drug screening. Absent consent from the officer, such compelled samples and the results of any such testing shall not be disclosed to any criminal investigative agency.
(b) If any officer has voluntarily elected to provide a statement to criminal investigators, the assigned administrative investigator should review that statement before proceeding with any further interview of that involved officer.
1. If a further interview of the officer is deemed necessary to determine policy compliance, care should be taken to limit the inquiry to new areas with minimal, if any, duplication of questions addressed in the voluntary statement. The involved officer shall be provided with a copy of his/her prior statement before proceeding with any subsequent interviews.
(c) In the event that an involved officer has elected not to provide criminal investigators with a voluntary statement, the assigned administrative investigator shall conduct an administrative interview to determine all relevant information.
1. Although this interview should not be unreasonably delayed, care should be taken to ensure that the officer’s physical and psychological needs have been addressed before commencing the interview.
2. If requested, the officer shall have the opportunity to select an uninvolved representative to be present during the interview. However, in order to maintain the integrity of each individual officer’s statement, involved officers shall not consult or meet with a representative collectively or in groups prior to being interviewed.
3. Administrative interviews should be recorded by the investigator. The officer may also record the interview.
4. The officer shall be informed of the nature of the investigation. If an officer refuses to answer questions, he/she should be given his/her Garrity rights and ordered to provide full and truthful answers to all questions. The officer shall be informed that the interview will be for administrative purposes only and that the statement cannot be used criminally.
5. The Support Services Division shall compile all relevant information and reports necessary for the Department to determine compliance with applicable policies.
6. Regardless of whether the use of force is an issue in the case, the completed administrative investigation shall be submitted to the Use of Force Review Board, which will restrict its findings as to whether there was compliance with the Use of Force Policy.
7. Any other indications of potential policy violations shall be determined in accordance with standard disciplinary procedures.
307.8 CIVIL LIABILITY RESPONSE
A member of this department may be assigned to work exclusively under the direction of the legal counsel for the Department to assist in the preparation of materials deemed necessary in anticipation of potential civil litigation.
All materials generated in this capacity shall be considered attorney work product and may not be used for any other purpose. The civil liability response is not intended to interfere with any other investigation but shall be given reasonable access to all other investigations.
307.9 AUDIO AND VIDEO RECORDINGS
Any officer involved in a shooting or death may be permitted to review available Mobile Audio/Video (MAV), body-worn video, or other video or audio recordings prior to providing a recorded statement or completing reports.
Upon request, non-law enforcement witnesses who are able to verify their presence and their ability to contemporaneously perceive events at the scene of an incident may also be permitted to review available MAV, body-worn video, or other video or audio recordings with the approval of assigned investigators or a supervisor.
Any MAV, body-worn and other known video or audio recordings of an incident should not be publicly released during an ongoing investigation without consulting the prosecuting attorney or City Attorney’s Office, as appropriate.
Following an officer-involved shooting or death, the Sterling Police Department should conduct both a critical incident/stress debriefing and a tactical debriefing.
307.10.1 CRITICAL INCIDENT/STRESS DEBRIEFING
A critical incident/stress debriefing should occur as soon as practicable. Notes and recorded statements should not be taken because the sole purpose of the debriefing is to help mitigate the stress-related effects of a traumatic event.
The debriefing is not part of any investigative process. Care should be taken not to release or repeat any communication made during a debriefing unless otherwise authorized by policy, law or a valid court order.
Attendance at the debriefing shall only include those members of the Department directly involved in the incident, which can include support personnel (e.g., dispatchers, other non-sworn). Family or other support personnel may attend with the concurrence of those involved in the incident. The debriefing shall be closed to the public and should be closed to all other members of the Department, including supervisory and Support Service’s personnel.
307.10.2 TACTICAL DEBRIEFING
A tactical debriefing should take place to identify any training or areas of policy that need improvement. The Chief of Police should identify the appropriate participants. This debriefing should not be conducted until all involved members have provided recorded or formal statements to criminal and/or administrative investigators.
307.11 MEDIA RELATIONS
Any media release shall be prepared with input and concurrence from the supervisor and department representative responsible for each phase of the investigation. Releases will be available to the Shift Supervisor, Support Services Division Commander and Public Information Officer in the event of inquiries from the media. An Officer-Involved shooting media release shall require approval by the Chief of Police.
No involved SPD officer shall make any comment to the media unless he/she is authorized by the Chief of Police or a Division Commander.
Department members receiving inquiries regarding officer-involved shootings or deaths occurring in other jurisdictions shall refrain from public comment and will direct those inquiries to the agency having jurisdiction and primary responsibility for the investigation.
The Records Supervisor, with the assistance of the Support Services Division Commander, shall report the data required by CRS § 24-33.5-517 regarding officer-involved shootings to the Colorado Department of Public Safety by September 1 each year.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement:
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), is committed to protecting the public and ensuring that the rights of victims are carefully observed. HSI administers the Victim Notification Program which allows eligible victims and witnesses to obtain reliable and timely information regarding a criminal alien’s release from custody. However, victims and witnesses are required to register with our agency in order to receive notification of a criminal alien’s release.
To this end, please click on the link listed below to access the HSI’s Victim Notification Program to be transferred to a number of valuable victim services programs provided by ICE.
Police Chaplaincy Program
The volunteer chaplaincy program of the Sterling Police Department was began on March 14, 2011. The program was established with the premise of providing a beneficial resource to department employees and their families. The goal of the program was to bring comfort to those in need, regardless of the theological persuasion of those being assisted. While the chaplain possesses no law enforcement authority, he provides a strong assist to officers in making injury or death notifications to family or others affected, and serving in any situation where officers deem the services of a chaplain beneficial.
The volunteer chaplain appointed by the Chief of Police, after meeting the criteria put forth by the Police Chaplain Program policy, was Chaplain Jared Sonnenberg. He is a licensed minister in an officially recognized denomination. He began his duties on March 14, 2011. Jared was highly instrumental in the 2013 South Platte flood by assisting officers and citizenry with their concerns, as well as visiting area churches during their Sunday services to communicate to as many as possible the various safety measures, information, and in general to cope with the advent of the flood waters. He also maintained a high visibility when indicated with many cases in 2013 and 2014 to provide comfort to citizens who experienced a need.
Special Street Use Request
If you or your group are planning an event, such as a parade or race, which necessitates street closures or traffic re-routing, click here to download the Request For Special Street Use form, and bring or mail the completed form to the police department.
The SPD and the local District Attorney have adopted a zero-tolerance policy regarding all domestic violence. Persons charged with a crime involving domestic violence must be jailed until court advisement. All restraining orders are strictly enforced, but if you have an order issued by a court in another state, you may have to obtain a new order from the local court. If you are a victim of domestic violence, contact the SPD immediately or call Help For Abused Partners at 522-2307.
VIN (Vehicle Inspection Number) Checks
VIN Checks are a service offered to the public by the Sterling Police Department. A citizen may purchase a car out of state, or from an individual, and before licensure can take place, a VIN certificate is needed, signed by a certified inspector. The SPD has several officers certified to perform such a service.
Checks are available at the SPD on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 7- 9 AM, excluding holidays. If possible, please bring your vehicle to the police department; however, officers may be able to travel to an in-city location for the inspection. Inspection certificates or slips are available at the SPD if needed. For a VIN Inspection, please inquire at the Reception window of the Sterling Police Department located in Centennial Square at 421 N. 4th Street, Sterling.
There is no charge for a “regular” VIN check; however, if you should require a Certified VIN check, a fee of $20.00 is needed. A certified VIN is done on bonded vehicles or salvage titles, or on kits or homemade vehicles, for example. A certified VIN may be needed because the DMV has requested one per state statute.
ATV/OHV Registration and Inspection
If you have an ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) or an OHV (Off Highway Vehicle) that you wish to have licensed to drive on city streets, you may do so by coming to the Police Department with your trailered vehicle, or an officer will come to where your vehicle is parked. The fee for the original registration is $100.00 and for yearly re-registration the fee is $35.00. Hours for registration are Mondays, Wednesdays, or Fridays, from 7 - 9 AM.
All city prisoners taken into custody are held at the Logan County Sheriff’s Office at the Justice Center, 110 Riverview Road. Call the Sheriff’s Office at 522-2578 for information regarding prisoner visitation and mail.
Writing bad checks is a criminal offense under Colorado law. If you are the victim of check fraud and have been unsuccessful in collecting the check yourself or through a commercial check collection agency, the SPD may investigate the check as a criminal offense. In order to sustain a criminal charge, you will have to be able to testify in court as to the identity of the check writer.
You will be requested to complete a check fraud questionnaire. This questionnaire is available at the police department reception window, or you may download and print out the form to bring along with you when reporting your case.
Door to Door Soliciting
Door to door soliciting without invitation is legal in the City of Sterling. However, if a salesman is bothering you or refuses to leave your property, other charges may be appropriate. Feel free to call the police department about any suspicious person or business proposition.
The Sterling Police Department offers a fingerprinting service to the general public. This service is available on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:30 – 9:30 AM. Fingerprints are taken for employment purposes, or to obtain certain licensures, such as a teaching license, nursing or insurance license. If needed, fingerprint cards are available at the police station. Persons should bring a photo ID, usually a driver’s license, for identification purposes.
A $10.00 service fee for the actual taking of the fingerprints by an officer is charged and may be paid at the reception window, where an officer will be called to take the fingerprints. Please bear in mind that there will be a fee by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (state-wide check) and/or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (national check) for the background search.
Bicycle and Gun Registration
Bicycles and firearms may be registered at the Police Department, free of charge, on a strictly voluntary basis. Registration of such items greatly increases your chances of recovering lost or stolen property. Click here to download your bicycle registration form, complete, and bring the form, along with your bicycle to the police department, for completion of the registration process.
Bicycles are subject to traffic laws and violators may be ticketed, just as motor vehicle drivers.
Permits are required to discharge firearms of any type within the City. To obtain your permit, for which there is no charge, click here, download the form, complete, and bring or mail it to the police department.
Criminal Justice Records
Criminal justice records are available per state statute. A written application must be submitted, along with copy and search fees set by ordinance. Most requests require a day or two to research after administrative approval. Some reports may be withheld until investigation is complete, and most juvenile records are not releasable. If you need records from another state, county, or local agency, you will need to contact that agency, as we may only release our own local records. State-wide criminal arrest records and driving records are available from the Colorado Crime Information Center and the Colorado Department of Revenue. If you are the defendant in a case, you or your attorney can obtain case reports through the discovery process from the prosecuting attorney.
Records-Request-Form download your Records Request form, and bring or mail the completed form, with proper fees to the police department to obtain the record requested.
State and local liquor laws are strictly enforced. Beer sold locally in kegs bears a numbered tag which identifies the purchaser and may NOT be removed. Open containers of alcoholic beverages are prohibited in all unlicensed public areas, including motor vehicles and in the parks. Alcoholic beverages are not allowed in city parks.
Sterling Police Officers are expected to conduct themselves professionally and courteously at all times. Should you have a complaint about an officer’s conduct, or a question about police procedures, contact the police department and ask for a Major or a shift supervisor. All complaints are taken seriously and investigated thoroughly. If you have a compliment regarding any officer, please contact the police department and ask for a Major or a shift supervisor.