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June 21, 2021

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Vancouver police update 5 ‘key policies’

Department has enacted 31 of 84 recommendations so far

By , Columbian Assistant Metro Editor

The Vancouver Police Department announced Thursday it has updated five “key policies,” including enhancing standards for the acceptable use of police dogs and requiring officers to carry a flashlight other than one mounted to a firearm.

The changes came from a partnership with the city’s Community Task Force on Policing, which outlined 84 recommendations in a use-of-force report by the Police Executive Research Forum in June 2020. Police have implemented 31 of the 84 recommendations thus far, according to a news release.

The department also has added new bias and cultural awareness department training, and expanded its data collection and transparency with a new records management system “to track police response and incident details related to use of force,” the news release stated.

Ed Hamilton Rosales, a member of the Community Task Force on Policing that resulted from the PERF report, said the changes are a step in the right direction, and he expects all the recommendations to be in place by September.

“The policies we’ve been working on so far have been clarification of wording and combining of several policies,” he said. “I don’t feel like the bulk of the work has been done yet.”

Rosales, who is the president of the League of United Latin American Citizens in Southwest Washington, said he would like the Community Task Force on Policing to become more of a “community oversight board,” and to have direct input on policies with Vancouver’s forthcoming police body-worn cameras.

“We’re going to demand that a community review board be set up to oversee the implementation of bodycam systems and policies that follow them,” he said.

Vancouver has already allocated $3 million for police reform, which includes potential funding for the startup costs of body-worn cameras.

“The Vancouver Police Department is committed to continuing to make policy and culture changes in an effort to improve equity, accountability, transparency, promote higher standards, and increase public trust and confidence between our department and the public we serve,” said Vancouver Police Chief James McElvain.

The task force, which meets monthly, “is also charged with overseeing the implementation of a comprehensive police camera program, projected to be implemented in Spring 2022,” according to the news release.

The review began in 2019 after police were involved in multiple use-of-force incidents and officers shot four people within a few months. The city then commissioned the PERF, a nonprofit police research and policy organization, to assess VPD’s policies, training, documentation and data on use of force.

This article has been updated to accurately state the Community Task Force on Policing, which includes Ed Hamilton Rosales as a member.