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Tallahassee Commissioners call for review of police department's use of force policy

Posted at 6:40 PM, May 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-21 18:40:43-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Tallahassee Commissioners say it's their job to consider changes to policy at the city's police department to make sure arrests like Jacquez Kirkland's is handled better.

Mayor Pro Tem Jeremy Matlow and Commissioner Jack Porter say with so many questions surrounding the video, they want to work with Tallahassee Police Department to review the current resisting arrest policy as soon as possible.

Those city leaders, along with Tallahassee NAACP President Mutaqee Akbar, Pastor Lee Johnson, and former Tallahassee NAACP President Delaitre Hollinger all spoke out against the video at City Hall Friday morning.

"We're here to review what's under our purview. As City Commissioners, we are the ultimate accountability of what's permissible by a City of Tallahassee employee," said Matlow.

It all stems from an arrest Sunday evening. Police say they handcuffed Jacquez Kirkland after he failed a sobriety test. Shortly after, a struggle begins between Kirkland and the officers, leading two officers to pull out a baton. One officer hits Kirkland three times.

"It's not about incrimination or casting blame. It's about getting answers to these questions so we can move forward so we can continue to heal," said Commissioner Porter.

Commissioners are requesting Tallahassee Police Chief Lawrence Revell specifically explain how the actions were consistent with the use of force policy at the next meeting.

At the June 3 meeting, the commissioners want Chief Revell and City Manager Reese Goad to explain how those officers specifically followed guidelines. Commissioners will decide from there if the policy needs immediate change. From there, city staff will work to adopt a new policy that will go back to the commission at a later date for approval.

Mutaqee Akbar also represents Kirkland. He said he has a conversation with the Chief Friday morning.

"The question is where we go from here. I think where we go from here is addressing TPD's policy, " said Akbar.

Current TPD policy says officers use "only the amount of force objectively reasonable to effectively bring the incident under control." Batons come out when some is displaying "aggressive resistance and in some cases active resistance"

Commissioners are now questioning how the department defines those levels of resistance.

TPD responded to the calls in a statement, saying:

The Tallahassee Police Department remains committed to transparency and open dialogue with the community in reference to our forward facing policies. As a progressive and continually evolving law enforcement agency we adhere to the highest standards of performance and best practices set forth to ensure the safety of the community as well as our officers. We encourage the input of the Citizens Review Board and the Citizens Advisory Council and await their evaluation of the incident at their upcoming meetings.
Tallahassee Police Department

The citizen's review board will look at the current policy and bring back recommendations.

You can find TPD's full resisting arrest use of force policy by clicking here.