Kent County, DE Policy Manual
 
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents

§ 13-1 Firearm policy.

[Adopted 9-12-2000 (S-1); amended 3-23-2010 (P10-01); 6-14-2016 (P16-01a)]
The Kent County Levy Court recognizes and respects the value and special integrity of each human life, but understands that the Sheriff of Kent County and Deputy Sheriffs may be required to exercise their lawful authority to use force to protect the public welfare. Therefore, it is the policy of Kent Count Levy Court that officers shall receive annual training on the proper use of firearms and use firearms only as is reasonably necessary to effectively bring an incident under control, while protecting the lives of the officers or another.
A. 
Purpose. The purpose of this Policy is to provide annual training and proper firearm use guidelines for the Sheriff and Deputy Sheriffs.
B. 
Definitions. As used in this section, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
APPROVED FIREARM
Any approved firearm authorized for purchase and use by the Kent County Levy Court and Kent County Sheriff in compliance with this and other policies.
FIREARMS INSTRUCTOR
That individual approved by the Kent County Sheriff and qualified by the State of Delaware to supervise firearms training programs.
OFFICER(S)
Includes the Sheriff of Kent County and any duly sworn Deputy Sheriff serving in the Office of the Sheriff of Kent County.
OFF-DUTY
That period of time when the officer is not acting in an official capacity or performing official duties.
C. 
Annual firearm training.
(1) 
Officers are required to participate in scheduled firearm training programs.
(2) 
Officers will receive annual training on the Use of Force Policy and related policies and qualify with their authorized firearm(s) with the Delaware Council of Police Training Requirements for a minimum of twice a year.
(3) 
Proficiency training must be monitored by a certified firearms instructor.
(4) 
Training and proficiency must be documented, and all documents will be maintained by the Chief Deputy and kept on file in the Sheriff’s office.
(5) 
Any officer who does not qualify with an approved firearm will be given remedial training in the proper use of that firearm prior to resuming official duties.
(6) 
Only those Officers demonstrating proficiency in the use of their firearm will be permitted to carry such firearm.
(7) 
Any Officer failing to achieve and maintain proficiency, as defined above, shall within 24 hours advise the Sheriff, and his or her title as Deputy Sheriff shall be immediately suspended.
(8) 
Annually, the Sheriff shall submit written documentation from the Range Master to Levy Court which verifies that each officer has completed annual firearm training as required by this Policy. Failure to complete proficiency training, to qualify with the County-authorized firearm, and/or submit documentation as required shall result in an immediate fifty-percent salary reduction for noncompliant officers until such time as proficiency documentation is submitted.
D. 
Ammunition and handgrips.
(1) 
Only unadulterated ammunition issued by the Sheriff will be carried in any approved firearm(s).
(2) 
The use of handgrips, other than those issued with the firearm, must be approved by the firearm instructor and the Kent County Sheriff.
(3) 
No one, other than the Sheriff-approved armorer, will perform service on a firearm beyond routine maintenance and cleaning.
E. 
Officers, prior to being issued an approved firearm, shall receive a copy and be instructed in these firearm-related policies. The Sheriff shall retain records of the issuance of such policies and the instruction pertinent to those policies with signed proof of each officers receipt and review of said policies.
F. 
Warning shots are prohibited.
G. 
No unapproved personally owned firearm or ammunition shall be carried by any Deputy/Officer when on duty.
H. 
Approved firearms.
(1) 
Officers, while on duty or during the performance of other official duties, shall be armed with an approved firearm and ammunition.
(2) 
Officers, while on duty, shall carry their firearm secured in an approved holster and readily retrievable, along with their official identification and badge. Discretion shall be used at all times.
(3) 
Officers shall store all approved firearms by fully engaging a gun lock or by securing the approved firearm in a gun safe during off-duty hours. Approved firearms shall not be stored in vehicles during off-duty hours.
(4) 
Officers while on duty, shall not carry an approved firearm while consuming, or under the influence of, intoxicants.
(5) 
Officers shall notify their supervisor if taking any prescription or nonprescription medication, while on duty, which could in any way affect their judgment and/or their ability to safely use their approved firearm.
I. 
All approved firearms will be checked by the Firearm Instructor for mechanical soundness and efficiency prior to their certification for use. Final decisions as to the suitability and soundness of an approved firearm will rest with the Firearm Instructor, with approval of the Sheriff.
J. 
Officers must qualify with the Firearm Instructor, utilizing the following ammunition requirements:
(1) 
All ammunition carried will be of a commercial nature, factory fresh (no reloads allowed) and will be unadulterated.
(2) 
The following bullet types are prohibited for on- and off-duty carry: full metal jacket, armor piercing, explosive fused or loose shot pellets.
(3) 
Firearms qualification ammunition will generate those amounts of energy and recoil that are comparable to the ammunition to be carried.
(4) 
All ammunition to be carried shall be approved by the Kent County Sheriff.
K. 
Notification report.
(1) 
It is an Officer’s responsibility to immediately report any accidental or intentional discharge of his or her approved firearm(s), except on the range, to the County Administrator. A full Incident Report shall be submitted by the Officer who has discharged a firearm to the Sheriff, and copies forwarded to the County Attorney and Personnel Director within 24 hours.
(2) 
At a minimum, the incident report shall fully explain the circumstances surrounding the incident, including, but not limited to the following:
(a) 
The name and address of any injured person or persons at whom deadly force was directed.
(b) 
Names and addresses of any witnesses.
(c) 
Date and time of occurrence.
(d) 
Location of occurrence.
(e) 
Results of shots fired (extent of wounds, other objects struck, etc.).
(f) 
Other pertinent information concerning the incident written in narrative form to include justification for the use of force, etc.
(3) 
In the case of an accidental discharge that does not involve personal injury or property damage, the Sheriff shall complete a full investigation, and a crime report detailing the incident shall be forwarded to the Personnel Director within 48 hours.
(4) 
Incidents wherein a firearm is intentionally discharged in order to dispatch an injured animal for humane reasons need be documented by completing an Incident Report.
L. 
Any violation of this Policy shall be fully investigated, and appropriate action will be taken by the Sheriff to prevent future incidents. In addition, the Kent County Levy Court may, in its discretion, require the immediate return of any and all County-owned firearms and equipment and/or prohibit the use of same for such duration as it determines is necessary. The Levy Court may restore the use of any County-owned firearm or equipment upon written request and reasoned justification by the Sheriff.

§ 13-2 Use of force.

[Adopted 9-12-2000 (S-2); amended 6-14-2016 (P16-01a)]
The Kent County Levy Court recognizes and respects the value and special integrity of each human life, but understands that the Sheriff of Kent County and sworn Deputy Sheriffs may be required to exercise their lawful authority to use force to protect the public welfare. Therefore, it is the policy of Kent County Levy Court that officers shall use only that force that is reasonably necessary to effectively bring an incident under control, while protecting the lives of the officers or another.
A. 
Purpose. The purpose of this Policy is to provide guidelines for the Sheriff and Deputy Sheriffs to follow in the use of force, either deadly or nondeadly, to bring an incident under control.
B. 
Definitions. As used in this section, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
OFF-DUTY
That period of time before or after the normal workday when the officer is not acting in an official capacity or performing official duties.
OFFICER(S)
Includes the Sheriff of Kent County and any duly sworn Deputy Sheriff serving in the office of the Sheriff of Kent County.
REASONABLE BELIEF
The facts or circumstances the officer knows, or should know, are such as to cause an ordinary and prudent person to act or think in a similar way under similar circumstances.
SERIOUS PHYSICAL INJURY
That which causes or appears to cause a substantial risk of:
(1) 
Death;
(2) 
Serious and prolonged disfigurement;
(3) 
Prolonged impairment of health; or
(4) 
Prolonged loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ.
C. 
Use of force.
(1) 
Officers of the Office of the Sheriff of Kent County shall use only the force necessary to effect lawful objectives. An Officer obtains the right to use force, including deadly force, in certain situations as defined by 11 Del. C.§§ 462 and 471. All Officers shall completely familiarize themselves with these sections of the Delaware Code.
(2) 
Whenever an Officer employs deadly force, there should be no question as to what person the deadly force is being directed against or that the officer has a legal right to employ such force. In all cases, the Officer should believe the force employed creates no substantial risk of injury to innocent persons. The Officer must have a clear line of fire to discharge the firearm.
(3) 
The use of deadly force is only justified in the following situations:
(a) 
The Officer has a reasonable belief that the person to whom deadly force is being directed is about to inflict death, or serious physical injury, upon the Officer.
(b) 
The Officer believes the person to whom deadly force is being directed is causing or is about to cause death or serious physical injury to another individual.
(c) 
The Officer is assisting another law enforcement officer upon which a person is about to inflict death, or serious physical injury.
(4) 
The use of deadly force against a "fleeing detainee" shall only be used when the Officer believes that the person to whom deadly force is being directed is causing or about to cause death or serious physical injury to the Officer or another individual.
(5) 
If, during the use of deadly force, or less than deadly force, any person(s) is injured, the Officer shall immediately notify the Emergency Communications Center and request emergency medical personnel and shall render any necessary first aid, for which he or she has been trained by Kent County, until the arrival of emergency medical personnel
D. 
Reports of force or injury.
(1) 
All Officers shall submit a written Report to the Sheriff within 24 hours of occurrence any time an Officer:
(a) 
Discharges a firearm, for other than training purposes;
(b) 
Takes any action that results in, or is alleged to have resulted in, injury or death of another person;
(c) 
Applies force through the use of lethal or less-than-lethal weapons;
(d) 
Applies any force as defined by Sheriff directives; or
(e) 
Takes any person into custody that had a prior injury.
(2) 
All reports concerning force or injury shall be forwarded after review by the Sheriff, but no later than two working days, to the County Attorney and the Personnel Director.
E. 
Officers are prohibited from discharging their firearms in the line of duty when in their judgment it appears the following circumstances exist:
(1) 
When it appears likely a person other than the suspect will be hit.
(2) 
When in a crowded area.
(3) 
At a suspect(s) who is holding an innocent person hostage when firing would endanger the hostage or any other innocent person.
(4) 
At a motor vehicle and/or the occupants therein, unless as a last resort and only when the operator of the vehicle is directing the vehicle as deadly force against the Officer or other innocent persons and the Officer believes employing deadly force creates no substantial risk of injury to innocent persons.
(5) 
When the Officer does not have a clear line of fire.
F. 
Warning shots are prohibited.
G. 
Use of force other than deadly.
(1) 
An Officer shall only use the following items of equipment, or any other equipment, in detaining and controlling an individual, when resistance is encountered, to prevent an escape, or for the purpose of protecting themselves or a third party from bodily harm:
(a) 
Handcuffs:
[1] 
Officers are issued handcuffs to restrain and secure persons for detainment, not as a defensive weapon.
[2] 
No one can predict each and every situation that will require the use of handcuffs. The final decision as to the need for the use of handcuffs is most frequently left up to the best judgment and discretion of the Officer's assessment of the detainee and situation.
[3] 
Handcuffs may be used in the following situations:
[a] 
Unruly, hostile and extremely argumentative persons resisting detention.
[b] 
Persons whom the Officer has reason to believe will attempt to escape or cause harm to themselves, the Officer or others.
[c] 
When there is a Court Order or directive from a Judge or Commissioner to detain and take such person(s) into lawful custody.
[4] 
When using handcuffs, Officers should not:
[a] 
Handcuff themselves to a suspect.
[b] 
Use handcuffs as a "come-along."
[c] 
Forget to double-lock and check the handcuffs after they have been applied.
[d] 
Tighten the handcuffs in such a fashion they pinch the skin, restrict circulation, or intentionally cause the suspect unreasonable discomfort.
(b) 
Flashlights:
[1] 
Flashlights may be issued by the Sheriff to Officers.
[2] 
The primary application of the flashlight is as a source of illumination.
[3] 
A flashlight is not a weapon, although there maybe exceptional situations where it may be necessary to use it as a defensive instrument.
[4] 
Small flashlights, such as the Mini-Mag light and nonportable search lights powered through the vehicle cigarette lighter, may also be used.
(c) 
The following defensive weapons are strictly prohibited:
[1] 
Sap glove;
[2] 
Brass knuckles;
[3] 
Slapjacks;
[4] 
Blackjacks; and
[5] 
Stun devices.

§ 13-3 Transporting detainees.

[Adopted 9-10-2002 (S-3); amended 6-14-2016 (P16-01a)]
This Policy establishes reasonable provisions necessary to protect the lives and promote the safety of Sheriff's office employees, the public and the person in custody while transporting detainees.
A. 
Prior to transport:
(1) 
All detainees shall be thoroughly searched for any weapons, instruments or contraband.
(2) 
The search should be conducted by a Sheriff's Officer of the same sex as the detainee if possible, or in the presence of another Sheriff's office employee, bailiff, or law enforcement official.
(3) 
The transporting Sheriff's office Officer shall advise staff or the Emergency Communications Center at time of departure of the identity of the detainee, destination of transport, and the time and mileage reading before and after transport.
(4) 
The transporting Sheriff's Officer employee shall assist the detainee into the vehicle for transport.
B. 
Transport guidelines.
(1) 
Detainees shall only be transported by a Sheriff's office Officer employee in a County-owned vehicle, unless an alternative method is specifically authorized by the Sheriff. If using a vehicle other than a County-owned vehicle, then a second Sheriff's office Officer or officer of the court must assist in the transport of the detainee.
(2) 
Leg restraints shall be used when detainees exhibit violent behavior or a Sheriff's office Officer believes a detainee has the potential for violent behavior.
(3) 
All detainees shall be secured in the vehicle by proper use of a seatbelt as required by County policy, except in situations where circumstances exist that would otherwise present more danger to the Sheriff's office Officer or the person being transported.
(4) 
Any wheelchairs, crutches, prosthetic devices, and medication should be transported with, but not in the possession or within reach of, the detainee.
(5) 
Detainees shall not be left unattended by a Sheriff's office Officer during transport.
(6) 
In the event of escape, all information shall be immediately reported to the Emergency Communications Center and reports filed with the appropriate agencies. An escaping detainee shall not be chased on foot by a Sheriff's office Officer or pursued by a County-owned vehicle.
C. 
Vehicle inspection. All vehicles regularly used for detainee transport shall be inspected at the beginning of each workday as follows:
(1) 
All windows shall be intact, and outer latches in proper working order;
(2) 
Rear seat handles and window controls shall be deactivated, where possible;
(3) 
Should any problems with the vehicle be discovered or any contraband or property of any kind be located inside the vehicle, the information shall be reported, documented, stored, and the vehicle promptly repaired when necessary.
(4) 
After the detainee has been delivered to the appropriate destination, the vehicle shall be searched and any discovered contraband reported, documented to the appropriate Agency and stored.
D. 
Handcuffing for transport.
(1) 
Deputies shall handcuff (double-locked) all detainees with their hands behind their back with palms facing forward.
(2) 
Deputies may only handcuff detainees with hands in front, or utilize other appropriate restraining devices if the detainee:
(a) 
Is in an obvious state of pregnancy;
(b) 
Has a limiting physical handicap; or
(c) 
Has injuries that could be aggravated by standard handcuffing procedures.
(3) 
Detainees shall not be handcuffed to any part of the vehicle during transport.
(4) 
Additional restraint devices, as approved by the Sheriff, may be used to secure a detainee who violently resists or who manifests mental disorders such that he or she poses a threat to himself or herself, the transporting Sheriff's office Officer(s) or the public.
E. 
Any violation of this Policy shall be fully investigated and appropriate action will be taken by the Sheriff to prevent future incidents. In addition, the Kent County Levy Court may, by formal motion and for any reason, prohibit the use of a County-owned vehicle(s) by any or all Sheriff's office Officer(s). The Levy Court may, in its discretion, by formal motion, restore the use of a County-owned vehicle(s) upon written request and reasoned justification by the Sheriff.

§ 13-4 Use of Sheriff's office vehicles. [1]

[Adopted 9-10-2002 (S-4); amended 6-14-2016 (P16-01a)]
This Policy establishes guidelines for the proper use, care and maintenance of all vehicles assigned to the Kent County Sheriff's office.
A. 
Vehicle operation. County-owned vehicles assigned to the Sheriff's office shall be used for official business only and for commuting purposes to and from work.
(1) 
Vehicles shall be operated by Sheriff's office employees only, except as necessary by service personnel performing maintenance or other work on the vehicle.
(2) 
Vehicles shall be operated in accordance with all state traffic laws, County ordinances and policies, and related procedures established by the Sheriff. Vehicle pursuit is strictly forbidden. Seat belts and shoulder straps shall be worn by all operators and passengers. Detainees shall be strapped into the back seat with seat belts whenever possible, and proper child restraint shall be used when applicable.
(3) 
Unattended vehicles shall be locked at all times.
(4) 
Whenever a Sheriff's office employee is fully relieved of duties (e.g., on vacation out of town or on leave for an extended period of time), the assigned vehicle shall be made available for use by other Sheriff's office employees and/or stored at the designated parking area.
B. 
Vehicle maintenance. The vehicle operator shall examine the vehicle each workday for damage, and report any observed damage to the Sheriff and the Personnel Office. Operators shall be responsible for routinely checking all fluid levels, belts, hoses and tires for damage or evidence of severe wear; scheduling routine maintenance, unless done by a centralized fleet management system and scheduling emergency or major repairs of the vehicle, following approval by the Sheriff.
C. 
Vehicle accidents.
(1) 
Whenever a County-owned vehicle is in an accident, it shall be reported immediately to the Sheriff and to the Personnel Office and a police report submitted when applicable.
(2) 
Except as provided in Subsection D of this Policy, after two preventable accidents within a twelve-month period, as determined by the Sheriff or County Safety Officer, the responsible Sheriff's office employee shall lose commuting privileges for a period of at least one month. A third preventable accident within a twelve-month period shall result in loss of commuting privileges for three months. A fourth preventable accident shall result in loss of use of any County-owned vehicle for a period of one year.
D. 
Any violation of this Policy or any other vehicle-related policy shall be fully investigated and appropriate action taken by the Sheriff to prevent future incidents. In addition, the Kent County Levy Court may, in its discretion, by formal Motion, and at any time for any reason, prohibit the use of a County-owned vehicle by a Sheriff's office employee. The Levy Court, may, by formal Motion, restore the use of a County-owned vehicle upon written request and reasoned justification by the Sheriff.
[1]
Editor's Note: See also § 4-4, Use of vehicles for County business.