Rifle police clarifies force policy after Nov. 2 arrest
A video posted onto Facebook last month showed a forced arrest in Rifle that drew both criticism and appreciation from residents. While the investigation is not yet completed, and it’s not yet clear if a lawsuit will result, the Rifle Police Department wanted to clarify its procedure as a result.
Devon Kelley, 19, was arrested for disorderly conduct Nov. 2 during an incident at the Rifle Comfort Inn & Suites.
During the arrest, a Rifle police officer was captured on video grabbing the suspect by the neck and forcing him to the floor while Kelley was in handcuffs.
After Kelley filed a formal complaint, Police Chief Tommy Klein issued a press release saying that the incident was under investigation.
The department’s policy is to avoid any contact with the neck of a suspect except for a properly applied carotid hold in appropriate situations, including when an officer is faced with deadly force, according to Kathy Pototsky, interim public information officer for the city.
Under the carotid control hold, the department’s policy manual states that it is to only be used when the subject “is violent or physically resisting, and when the subject, by words or actions, has demonstrated an intention to be violent and reasonably appears to have the potential to harm officers, him/herself, or others.”
While Klein indicated that the carotid hold was not used in Kelley’s arrest, the video appeared to show what Klein described as being perceived to be a first step in applying the hold.
He said that there was no further movement to complete the hold. Still, the department felt it necessary to clarify its procedure after seeing the public’s response.
Since the video was posted on Facebook on Nov. 4, it has been seen over 14,000 times, shared 271 times and has a total of 142 comments, ranging from defense of Kelley to defense of the department.
The day it was posted, the Rifle Police Department Facebook page immediately posted about the incident stating, “as with all instances where force is utilized, the Rifle Police Department is thoroughly investigating the incident.”
With 5,548 followers on Facebook, Klein said the department’s goal is to have an open and honest relationship with the community.
“Any incident that happens gives us opportunity to make adjustments,” Klein added. “We want to ensure the public that we support them.
Klein said the department is always listening and following on social media.
He added that, in today’s world, a police department like Rifle’s could not survive without a presence on social media.
Pototsky said that the department is always open to feedback from the public and that the department tries to be as open as possible.
“We are part of the community and are invested in Rifle,” Klein said.
While Klein still remains relatively new to the community, he said that many of the department’s officers have grown up in town and have many long-time relationships established.
It is one of the things that Klein said drew him to the job initially.
Pototsky hopes to continue to hear from the community and said that feedback is always welcome.
The department hopes to see more Rifle residents join Nextdoor, a free private social media network specific to a neighborhood. Klein thinks it could be a valuable tool for the community to stay engaged, communicate and get information from the police department.
Klein is also working with several members of the community to establish more community watch groups in town.
He hopes to have four formal neighborhood watch groups in different areas of Rifle, which will better help residents bring their concerns to their local police force.
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Marti Barbour was selected almost 20 years ago as the first recipient of a Habitat For Humanity house in the Roaring Fork Valley. She paid off her mortgage in June and recalled the dire times her family faced and the help that Habitat provided.