Daytona Beach, FL – Recommendations are already in use or will be implemented soon as a result of a study requested by Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood. The Police Executive Research Forum completed a review that began in May 2017 on use of force policies, procedures, training and case files.
Chitwood said attending a seminar in Scotland several years ago on de-escalation techniques used by a police department without guns resulted in him changing policies and training at the Daytona Beach Police Department. The report noted that VCSO has taken steps to encourage a view of law enforcement officers as guardians of the community.
When he took over the VCSO, Chitwood said there were seven shootings in the first six months, leading the state of Florida at that time. That’s when he requested the study from the Police Executive Research Forum to see what changes could be made to get better results.
With the number of calls that involve someone with a mental illness. Chitwood said that “As guardians who have a high value for the sanctity of human life, we want to do everything we can to create an environment where our deputies go home safely and the subject of a call has the opportunity to either go to jail or go get medical treatment in a safe environment.”
Chitwood said training methods have already changed including more scenario-based and critical incident training. He said in roughly 60 to 65 percent of police shootings involve a bad guy with a gun that’s been used or will be used. It’s the other 30 to 35 percent of incidents are the ones that get questioned and erode confidence in law enforcement.
Chitwood said that the training is making a difference and something else that helps is getting a supervisor on scene. He said that the higher the rank of the supervisor, the bigger the chance that a situation will not end badly.
Changes recommended by PERF are already underway, according to Chitwood, with updated policy documents to be made available online after they are finalized in coordination with the bargaining unit that represents VCSO deputies.
The study cost $92,321 was funded with money confiscated in criminal cases and approved by the Volusia County Council. Sheriff Chitwood said the public is welcome to look at the study, it’s results and it’s recommendations. It has been posted in full on the VCSO website.