Joint Statement Regarding Use of Force Policies and Training for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department

A joint statement from Mayor Krewson, Director Edwards, and Chief Hayden

June 16, 2020 | 3 min reading time

This article is 4 years old. It was published on June 16, 2020.

The primary responsibility of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and each of its members is to protect the lives of the citizens they are sworn to serve. The reverence of human life is paramount, and therefore the mention of our primary responsibility prefaces our rules and regulations. The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department strives to serve the community by protecting life, preventing crime, and maintaining a peaceful culture through respecting the humanity, dignity and constitutional rights of every person.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department has previously undertaken the following measures and they have been a part of SLMPD’s policies and training curriculum for many years.

1. De-escalation training has been a part of our training standards since 2014. There is no question that the utilization of this tactic can be very effective in controlling hostile situations and reducing the use of force. When possible, its use is encouraged to escape escalations of conflict. We expect de-escalation to be used in every encounter with the public.

2. Continuing implicit bias training and racial equity training for police have been mandatory since 2014.

3. The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department does not teach or sanction any type of chokehold technique. This policy was established in 2007.

4. Members of this Department have a duty to intervene. It is a requirement that all members of the SLMPD take appropriate action to prevent any misconduct against any citizen by another member of the Department. Officers are taught to consider their own individual conduct, and the moral obligations which may be created by another Officers’ actions.

5. It is strictly prohibited for members of the SLMPD to discharge a firearm at a moving vehicle unless an occupant of that vehicle is immediately threatening the Officer or another person with deadly force by means other than the vehicle. Additionally, an Officer remaining in the path of a moving vehicle, whether deliberately or inadvertently, is not justification for shooting at a moving vehicle. Conversely, members are prohibited from discharging firearms from a moving vehicle.

6. All blocks of instruction and training teach Officers to use the least amount of force reasonably necessary to effectively bring an incident under control while protecting life. The force continuum starts with the simple presence of a law enforcement officer. This then proceeds to verbal commands, empty hand techniques, intermediate weapons, and finally deadly force. Situations present themselves in a variety of ways, and one cannot predict the actions of another. The use of deadly force is a last resort in ensuring the safety of all. The use of force balances on a fine line between skill and competence. Everyone can learn a skill through training and repetition, but we also strive to develop competent Officers with a high level of integrity to know when and how to engage in any type of force:

a) It is important that a person is aware of an Officer’s presence and that the Officer intends to use force if necessary. While exigent circumstances may not always allow for this, we do mandate that before discharging a firearm at a suspect, that an Officer will identify him/herself as an Officer and state his/her intent to shoot, when possible; and

b) The reporting and documentation on any use of force is necessary and required. This goes for both non-deadly and deadly force. Furthermore, we monitor this internally for accountability measures and adherence to policy.

Officers of the Saint Louis Metropolitan Police Department must use the highest degree of care in the application of any use of force. We also recognize that in unique situations, exceptions to some restrictions may be necessary. Thus, every use of deadly force will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis to determine the reasonableness of an Officer’s actions. Professional accountability is paramount in our agency and does not solely relate to the use of force. Commissioned and non-commissioned personnel are held to the highest possible standards relative to all encounters with the public. 

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department’s badge is a symbol of public faith, and it is public trust that empowers sworn Officers to lawfully exercise their duties, to include the use of force. The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department regularly reviews policies and procedures to ensure that the Department is serving the community to the best of its abilities. We routinely update special orders to improve transparency and accountability, including complaint taking, internal investigations, and disciplinary processes.   

Hence, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department’s policies and procedures are modified when needed in order to conform with our commitment to maintain peace through service, integrity, leadership and fair treatment of all. Thus, we support the following:

  • a national registry of bad and corrupt police officers;
  • national standards for police training; and
  • the hiring of mental and behavioral health specialists to assist police.

Mayor Lyda Krewson
Judge Jimmie Edwards, Director, Department of Public Safety
Chief John Hayden, City of St. Louis Police Commissioner


  • Department:
    Office of the Mayor
    Department of Public Safety
    Metropolitan St. Louis Police Department
  • Topic:

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