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New General Order Issued Requires Officers to Intervene When Another Officer Uses Unreasonable Force


6/8/2020

Police Commissioner Branville G. Bard, Jr. today announced a General Order to all sworn members of the Cambridge Police Department specific to an officer’s duty to intervene. The General Order, which is effective immediately, requires “all sworn members of the Cambridge Police Department present at any scene where physical force is being applied, to either stop, or attempt to stop, another member of the Department when force is being unreasonably applied or is no longer required.”

Prior to this Order, an officer was obligated to report any use of force violations to their superior officer under the Cambridge Police Use of Force policy and Departmental Rules. This new General Order will still require supervisor notification, but now mandates officers to take a preventive or active approach. If an officer observes behavior that suggests another member is about to conduct unethical or inappropriate behavior, the General Order requires officers, whenever possible, to intervene verbally or physically depending on the circumstances. When conduct is being committed by another member, officers are ordered to take an active approach to verbally or physically intervene to stop any unethical behavior or misconduct committed by another member in the Department.

“We continually examine our policies to ensure that they meet the state’s requirements, conform to the very best practices in policing, and prioritize the sanctity of human life,” said Commissioner Bard. “Over the last two weeks, we have closely scrutinized our policies and procedures in light of the various reform measures that are being proposed around the country such as those outlined in the 8 Can’t Wait project. While we feel that most, if not all, of our policies directly align with the spirit of what is being asked for in the recommendations, an area where we felt we could be more explicit was the duty to intervene and stop excessive force by other officers.”

Within the General Order, the Department has also issued guidelines and specific examples of what these approaches would practically look like.

To review the General Order, please visit: https://www.cambridgema.gov/~/media/Files/policedepartment/Policies/generalorder2013dutytointervene.pdf.

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Cambridge Police Department

Branville G. Bard, Jr.
Police Commissioner

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