How do Anne Arundel County police officers use force? Here’s what they say.

Police Chief Timothy Altomare condemns the killing. Anne Arundel County Police and members of the local black clergy held a press conference to condemn the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The death of George Floyd, a black man who died at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis, has sent calls for police reform, accountability and transparency reverberating through Anne Arundel County. Police Chief Timothy Altomare said Floyd’s killing set local policing back years, if not decades.

In an effort to provide clarity to the community, Altomare released a 10-page document entailing exactly when and how Anne Arundel County police officers are trained to use force, and what procedures are followed when officers stray from their training.


“We realize that our community needs to know what we are doing and how we operate,” Altomare wrote. “It is up to us to continue to earn the trust of those we serve and to rebuild bridges with all of our community members.”

He has appeared at several protests and demonstrations around the county in support of Black Lives Matter and in honor of Floyd, and he spoke out in a recent guest column in The Capital against what he has since called the “unconscionable murder” of Floyd.


Here are five things you should know about how and when local police are supposed to use force:

1. Anne Arundel officers are not taught any type of neck restraint, and the department considers force to the head and neck to be deadly force.

Officers are taught not to use the position employed by the former officer who killed Floyd, which involves kneeling on the back of a person’s neck. If used for more than a few seconds, there is a risk of suffocation.

“We are also taught specifically that when holding a person to the ground to avoid the neck area, particularly with our knees, because it impinges EVERYTHING that keeps a human alive, such as air and blood flow, nerve impulses from the brain, etc,” the report states.

That’s not to say that Anne Arundel officers don’t ever use neck restraints — they do sometimes, but only in the case where deadly force is necessary to save another human life, according to the report.

2. Applicants are dismissed from the police hiring process if a history of racism is discovered, and all new officers undergo implicit bias training.

In addition to the background check required to become a police officer in Maryland, men and women applying to work in Anne Arundel County are vetted through several layers of review, and their personal background is examined for any type of prior discriminatory practices, according to the report.

Evidence of racism is a disqualifier, Altomare wrote.

The report notes that while all people have some type of implicit bias, officers are trained to reduce it. New officer training, which totals more than 1,000 hours, also includes trips to the Holocaust Memorial Museum and the African American History Museum in Washington, D.C., “to learn about how police have been used as a tool of oppression in the past to better help us avoid this in the present and future.”

3. If an officer uses force six or more times or has four or more complaints filed against him or her in a 12-month period, they are flagged for review.

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Every complaint against an officer and every report of use-of-force is investigated by the Anne Arundel County Police Department, according to the report.


But the department also uses technology to track the number of each that any officer accumulates over a 12-month period. It is called the Personnel Early Warning System.

When an officer is flagged, officer performance is assessed and supervisors decide on the appropriate discipline for the officer and the specific situation, and all incidents are reviewed by the Office of Professional Standards.

If an officer uses deadly force, the incident is reviewed by the Deadly Force Review Board and a member of the Anne Arundel County’s Equal Employment Opportunity Office serves as the outside voice of the review. This board is likely going to shift to review all serious incidents, Altomare wrote, and will offer more opportunities for civilian participation.

4. Any officer who witnesses another officer use excessive force is required to intervene immediately and report the incident.

If an officer witnesses another police officer using excessive force or acting outside of policy, he or she is required to intervene immediately, or risk being sanctioned within the police department or possibly being charged criminally, according to the report.

Roughly 70% to 80% of reports of sustained excessive force of Anne Arundel County Police come from within the department, according to the report.

5. Officers are trained in de-escalation techniques and conflict resolution.

Anne Arundel police officers are trained with a critical decision-making model, which targets an officer’s critical thinking process while responding to an incident. The process aims to provide officers with logical thought processes to assess a situation and act in the way that is the safest for everyone involved.