Pullman PD to implement new use-of-force policy

Pullman PD to reinstitute Citizen Police Academy in the fall; WSU professor develops public safety survey



The Pullman Police Advisory Committee will discuss Pullman Police Department’s community engagement projects during its monthly meeting at 5:30 p.m. March 8.

LOREN NEGRON, Evergreen editor-in-chief

The Pullman Police Department will prohibit officers from using chokeholds and will institute new outreach projects like a community survey to improve local public safety. 

Use-of-force policy changes

Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins said he recently revised Pullman PD’s policy manual, and the Pullman Police Officers’ Guild is currently reviewing it.

As part of the new use-of-force policy, the manual identifies what a chokehold is and prohibits officers from using it. Jenkins said chokeholds will only be used in cases where deadly force would be authorized. These changes will be implemented next month.

The revised manual also includes an intervention policy, he said. This will ensure use-of-force incidents are documented and handled properly through the review and response process.

“Officers are required to intervene if they observe another officer using excessive force … and also required for them to report that as well,” he said.

Pullman Police Cmdr. Jake Opgenorth manages use-of-force incidents. Jenkins said Opgenorth reviews all police reports that involve use of force. Opgenorth also examines body camera footage to determine if there is a use-of-force policy violation.

Citizen Police Academy

Pullman PD will reinstitute a Citizen Police Academy in the fall. The last academy in Pullman was organized in 2007 or 2008. Jenkins said the academy will host about 10 different sessions discussing various topics, including Pullman PD’s organizational structure, operations and training.

“The purpose really is to educate the public about what the police department actually does and how they do it,” he said.

The Pullman Police Advisory Committee, a volunteer group that serves as a liaison between Pullman PD and the public to promote public safety, is assisting Pullman PD with the development of the academy’s sessions. Jenkins said he is hoping the academy will be held in person, but it will most likely be conducted virtually. 

WSU and Pullman police departments have discussed holding a joint Citizen Police Academy, he said. However, after much deliberation, both departments decided to organize their own academies separately because they have different constituencies and operations.

Pullman 2040

Pullman PD and PPAC will have representatives for Pullman 2040, an initiative to develop and engage in community projects for the betterment of Pullman. Jenkins and PPAC Chair Stephanie Rink will serve on the Pullman 2040 steering committee. Rink said Opgenorth and two PPAC members will serve on the initiative’s safety task force.

“The police department should have representation that should be part of that group because whenever you are looking at changing the structure of the city, you really want public safety to be really right in the forefront because you want to have preventative actions instead of being reactive,” Rink said.

Public safety is always one of the top priorities listed when conducting surveys in the community, Jenkins said. However, it is a topic that is often not prioritized when making plans, like in Pullman 2040. 

He said this happens because many people consider Pullman to be safe. 

“In actuality, if we don’t keep [public safety] in the forefront as a focus, then we will not continue to be a safe community,” Jenkins said.

Public safety survey

David Makin, PPAC multicultural community representative and WSU associate professor of criminal justice and criminology, is developing a public safety survey to assist Pullman PD. He said the survey will also gather input from the community about what they think public safety should look like in Pullman.

Work on the survey began in January 2020 and is being conducted through Makin’s Public Safety Fellowship at WSU. Makin said a doctoral student is helping him determine which type of survey to use and what types of questions to include in the survey.

“[Surveys] are pretty common,” he said. “But despite how common they are, they’re very rarely sustained … If you won’t do it again, you don’t know if it’s improved over time.”

Jenkins might ask the Pullman City Council for funding of the survey. A PPAC subcommittee will review the survey before it is sent out to the community, Makin said.

Rink said PPAC will further discuss these community engagement projects during its monthly meeting at 5:30 p.m. March 8.