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CSPD hires outside research group to study department's use of force

The study is expected to take around nine months
Posted at 1:41 AM, Aug 22, 2023

COLORADO SPRINGS — There's going to be more scrutiny of how Colorado Springs police officers uses force and trains their officers to do so. It's part of their mission to become more transparent.

On Monday, the department announced they've hired an outside research group to help. The independent research organization is called Police Executive Research Forum also known as PERF. The study is expected to take around nine months. When the audit report is finished, a public meeting will be held to announce the findings.

“Building trust and maintaining that trust with our community members, this type of transparency is what we need to engage in,” said Commander John Koch with the Colorado Springs Police Department.

In 2020, CSPD hired an outside group to provide an overall assessment on their department and their use of force. Transparency Matters was chosen and published their report in April of last year.

“They identified areas that we were doing very well, like some of our practices in how we report use of force," said Commander Koch. “And then they identify areas where we can do better like how we review use of force instances by police officers.”

Transparency Matters then recommended the department to select another outside vendor to do another study, focusing more on training and communication with members of the community. Now, PERF has been selected to assess how the department is trained to handle crisis and emergency situations, and where improvements can be made.

“A lot of things have changed in policing, but what really hasn't changed the training,” said Chuck Wexler, the executive director of PERF. “We're still training the way we have for the past 20 or 25 years… What we're seeing in policing now, is there's enormous changes in policies and holding officers accountable.”

Wexler believes the Springs Police Department is taking a proactive measure when it comes to training on use of force, and the study will be beneficial in making improvements in the future.

“In most police departments, they don't do this. So they look at after an incident happens,” said Wexler. “They look at, did the officer use the right amount of force? But what they don't say is, how did we train them in the first place?”

The organization will be conducting part of their study at their facility in Washington D.C. and members will also visit Colorado Springs.

“We’ll be interviewing police officers, they will be looking at training, they’ll be looking talking to instructors, they’ll be looking various situations that Colorado Springs officers face, and how they're trained to deal with that,” said Wexler.

The department’s hope is for more trust and transparency.

“Chief Vazquez has been very clear that these studies and these reports and input from our community and from our employees is critical and that we will listen to those things and implement enhancements and improvements,” said Koch.

CSPD used to conduct these types of studies using their own resources, but they say hiring experts from the outside not only helps them improve transparency, but also helps them build trust with the community they serve.
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