PROVIDENCE, RI – Attorney General Peter F. Neronha has expanded protocol for use of force reviews of RI and municipal law enforcement to include alleged use of excessive force and less-than-deadly force resulting in serious bodily injury.
Rhode Island law enforcement agencies have long reported incidents of use of deadly force and custodial deaths to the Attorney General for review and investigation, according to Neronha’s office. The protocol had not been updated since 2007.
Under the updated protocol, Rhode Island law enforcement agencies are required to immediately report these incidents to the Attorney General, who will then lead an independent review of the incident and make charging decisions where appropriate.
“Even before the tragic events of the last month, the Office had been engaged in an internal review, in consultation with Rhode Island’s chiefs of police, of the existing Attorney General protocol for review of deadly force. Current events made the release of the updated protocol all the more urgent,” said Attorney General Neronha. “The updated protocol is significant because it expands our review authority to allow for independent review of most police use of force incidents. Our collective goal is to identify, and hold accountable, those officers who use excessive force before it results in death, as happened in the case of George Floyd.”
Nationwide protests followed news of Minneapolis police killing George Floyd, with one officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeling on the man’s neck for several minutes. As Floyd pleaded for his life, telling the officers he couldn’t breathe, three other officers watched without intervening.
All four officers were arrested and charged in Floyd’s killing. Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder. Officers Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.
The demonstrations across the country have inspired discussions about policing in America and calls for reform.
“The office recognized the need to update the protocol to promote greater uniformity, accountability, and impartiality in the investigation of police use-of-force incidents involving deadly force, allegations of excessive force, less-than-deadly force resulting in serious bodily injury, or custodial death. The updated protocol provides more robust guidance about how the investigation of such incidents should proceed,” Neronha’s statement about the update reads.
“I firmly believe that the Attorney General and those in law enforcement have a responsibility to build community trust,” said Attorney General Neronha. “A critical component of building that trust is to hold those officers who ignore their training, best practices, use of force policies and the law accountable.”