Accountability

The San Mateo Police Department’s objective is to protect our community and preserve the quality of life for all those whom we are sworn to protect. Simply managing and developing our excellent relationship with the community is not enough. The speed of media and the rapid magnification of incidents involving police nationwide have raised public questions regarding police accountability. We are motivated every day to improve as professionals and ensure San Mateo Police Department’s reputation remains one of the most professional and progressive policing organizations around.

In May of 2015, the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing produced a report to identify six pillars of modern policing for law enforcement agencies committed to building and keeping our public’s trust. These pillars match up well with San Mateo Police Department’s current and established best practices. 

Pillar 1 – Building Trust and Legitimacy

Pillar 2 – Policy and Oversight 

Pillar 3 – Technology and Social Media 

Pillar 4 – Community Policing and Crime Reduction 

Pillar 5 – Training and Education 

Pillar 6 – Officer Safety and Wellness

8 Can't Wait

The San Mateo Police Department protects the city with the community’s safety in mind. Our policies and standard operating procedures demonstrated this core belief well before the "8 Can’t Wait" campaign. The ideals expressed in “8 Can’t Wait” are thoroughly covered by the requirements in SB 230, which was approved by California Governor Newsom in September 2019. It mandates important use of force policies and training, including an emphasis on de-escalation and the sanctity of life. We’ve developed a series of use of force principles to improve community relations while balancing the safety of our officers and the people they serve. In regard to “8 Can’t Wait,” please review the policies below. 

Ban Chokeholds and Strangleholds

Chokeholds, strangleholds, and the use of the carotid restraint are NOT authorized per SMPD Lexipol Policy 300.3.4.  

Require De-escalation

De-escalation tactics are thoroughly trained in the basic police academy and throughout field training. It is a key component in regular, real-time scenario training throughout the career of our officers. De-escalation is incorporated in SMPD Lexipol policies: Use of Force (300), Taser Deployment (309), and Mental Health Crisis Response (418). It is also the centerpiece of a supplemental 40-hour training all our officers receive in crisis intervention. 

Require Warning Before Shooting

Verbal warning articulated in SMPD Lexipol Policy 300.4 Deadly Force - Where feasible, the officer shall, prior to the use of force, make reasonable efforts to identify themselves as a peace officer and to warn that deadly force may be used.

Exhaust All Other Means Before Shooting

SMPD Lexipol Policy 300.4 Deadly Force - If an objectively reasonable officer would consider it safe and feasible to do so under the totality of the circumstances, officers should evaluate the use of other reasonably available resources and techniques when determining whether to use deadly force.

Duty to Intervene

SMPD Lexipol Policy 300.2.1 - Any officer present and observing another officer using force that is clearly beyond that which is objectively reasonable under the circumstances shall, when in a position to do so, intercede to prevent the use of unreasonable force. An officer who observes another employee use force that exceeds the degree of force permitted by law should promptly report these observations to a supervisor.

Ban Shooting at Moving Vehicles

SMPD Lexipol Policy 300.4.1 - Shots fired at or from a moving vehicle are rarely effective. Officers should move out of the path of an approaching vehicle instead of discharging their firearm at the vehicle or any of its occupants. An officer should only discharge a firearm at a moving vehicle or its occupants when the officer reasonably believes there are no other reasonable means available to avert the threat of the vehicle, or if deadly force other than the vehicle is directed at the officer or others.

Officers should not shoot at any part of a vehicle in an attempt to disable the vehicle.

Require Use of Force Continuum

SMPD Lexipol Policy 300.3 - Given that no policy can realistically predict every possible situation an officer might encounter, officers are entrusted to use well-reasoned discretion in determining the appropriate use of force in each incident.

Require Comprehensive Reporting

The San Mateo Police Department requires supervisor reporting on uses of force, and utilizes a use of force review committee to review force used for policy, training issues, and for reporting to the CA Department of Justice through URSUS to comply with CA Government Code Section 12525.2.