Transparency in Policing

The Whitefish Bay Police Department has a strong commitment to transparency in policing.  Through this commitment we hope to continue the strong relationship we have with the community we serve.

For close to 20 years, our agency has equipped all of the patrol vehicles with squad camera systems.  In 2018 we instituted our body worn camera program, and in 2020 we further enhanced our system to include automatic camera activation when an officer draws there firearm or activates their Taser.  Our body worn camera policy can be found here.

Our agency is currently working to ensure our policies reflect the best practices of the profession.  Our policies are being carefully reviewed and we will be seeking accreditation through the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Accreditation Group (WILEAG).  

Our Use of Force policy was reviewed to ensure that it complies with the June 16, 2020 Presidential Executive Order on Safe Policing for Safe Communities.  Our use of force policy can be found here.

The 8 Can’t Wait movement identifies eight issues with police use of force policies  that can reduce killings by police and save lives.  Below are the eight issues and how the Whitefish Bay Police Department complies with them.

8 cant wait
  1. Ban Chokeholds and Strangleholds
  2. Require De-escalation
  3. Require Warning Before Shooting
  4. Exhaust All Alternatives Before Shooting

The Whitefish Bay Police Department is not trained in Chokehold or Strangleholds.  Our Use of Force Policy prohibits them except in situations where deadly force would be justified.  The use of deadly force is only justified to counteract, “Behavior which has caused or imminently threatens to cause death or great bodily harm to you or another person or persons.”

  1. Duty to Intervene
  2. Ban Shooting at Moving Vehicles
  3. Establish a Use of Force Continuum
  4. Require All Force to be Reported

The State of Wisconsin trains all law enforcement officers about the topic of Contact Officer Override:

This concept grows out of the contact-cover principle, a mode of police/jail operation that gives officers different roles.  In this mode, one officer serves as the contact officer (making actual contact with a subject) while another officer (or more than one) serves as a cover officer (observing to ensure that all goes well and ready to intervene if necessary).

Contact officer override is a corollary of the concept of shared responsibility. It means that cover officers have the proactive responsibility to intervene in a situation if the contact officer behaves inappropriately, or is otherwise not handling the situation effectively.  One of the ways in which a contact officer might behave inappropriately is through verbal communication to a subject. Inappropriate communication might involve unwarranted anger, use of profanity, threats, or other unacceptable and unprofessional responses.  In other words, there are no innocent bystanders.  As professionals, we are responsible for each other.

In such a situation, the cover officer must intervene and override the contact officer. The cover officer might do so by stopping the contact officer from his/her behavior, taking the contact officer aside to talk to him or her, taking over the contact officer’s role, and so on.  Sometimes the cover officer may simply need to step in and take over for the contact officer because the contact officer is not being effective or is not getting through to the subject.

Because officers share responsibility for what happens during incidents and for their outcome, cover officers must sometimes step out of their normal role of providing back-up and support and override the contact officer even when outranked. 

Whitefish Bay policy states,

"All sworn employees have a duty to intervene if they observe another officer using force that is clearly beyond that which is objectively reasonable under the circumstances; WI. State Statute 175.44. Officers shall promptly report these observations to a supervisor. If the offending officer is their supervisor then the reporting officer will report the incident to the next supervisor in the chain of command. If the offending officer works for another jurisdiction; the reporting officer shall work through the Whitefish Bay chain of command. 

Subsequent written notification to the Chief of Police shall be made prior to the end of shift and include the date, time, and place of the occurrence, the identity if known, and description of the participants, and a description of the events and the force used."