Steamboat police roll out policy manual | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat police roll out policy manual

Steamboat Springs Police Department

— As promised, all Steamboat Springs residents now have access to the policies and procedures police officers abide by.

Even before beginning his job in November as the chief of the department, Cory Christensen expressed his desire to make the policies available on the city’s website.

“I believe it increases the transparency of the agency by putting the policies out there for everyone to see,” Christensen said Thursday. "It's actually not done by a lot of law enforcement agencies."

Since 2012, the department has been working on adopting the new manual. It was also the recommendation of an outside investigator last summer that the police department adopt new policies.

The 651-page manual was created using a system from Lexipol, a company specializing in providing state-specific policies and training for public safety organization.

Christensen said Lexipol follows national trends, legal decisions and best practices for public safety organizations.

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“A lot of law enforcement uses it,” Christensen said.

He said putting the manual together was a daunting task. Lexipol provides the basic policies, but Christensen said those policies need to be adapted to fit the needs of the agency and the community.

Officer John McCartin has been working on the manual since September.

After extensive review, the department finalized the manual in February.

Many of the procedures outlined in the manual address situations police in Steamboat rarely deal with. For example, it describes how to deal with criminal street gangs and how to clear airspace if an incident requires it.

Other policies outline rules for using handcuffs, social media use and when an officer is allowed to use force.

The department’s vision and mission statement is included. Christensen said those are not new, and he plans to take a closer look at them in the future.

Christensen described the manual as a living document that will be reviewed on a regular basis.

“They’re not etched in stone,” Christensen said. “We realize, out of 651 pages, there may be some unintended consequences.”

Officers are in the process of reading the manual.

McCartin said the Lexipol system is web-based, and officers will regularly be quizzed on the manual’s content.

“It’s a very easy way to track training,” McCartin said.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland