ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Anchorage police officers will use non-lethal means to stop suspects who are using only a vehicle as a weapon, Chief Mark Mew announced Tuesday.
The new policy is being put into effect after Anchorage police had three officer-involved shootings this year involving moving vehicles, such as when cars were used to ram police cruisers. One person was killed.
Officers are now being trained on using other tactics in such situations, Mew said.
The department is not releasing what those methods are.
"We can't because basically our tactics and our methods are like our playbook," police spokeswoman Jennifer Castro said. "If we release those, it's like handing the criminals our playbook and we don't want to do that."
Mew said the department looked at how larger forces in Las Vegas, Los Angeles and San Diego worked to reduce the number of officers shooting at moving vehicles.
APD also worked with a consultant to write the Anchorage-specific policy.
"Unless use of deadly force is otherwise justified, an officer shall not shoot at a moving vehicle if the vehicle is being used as the only weapon," the new policy reads.
He said many departments across the country have seen decreases in the number of officers shooting at vehicles after similar new policies were put into place or existing policies were tweaked.
He said there has been a growing trend of officers opening fire at moving vehicles throughout the U.S.
It is the department's goal "to protect public welfare and for every officer to go home safe every day," Mew said.
Castro said other law enforcement agencies have seen a similar issue "at some point in their communities," and by changing policies and taking different approaches, "they were able to reduce the number of officer-involved shootings at vehicles and basically attack crime in a better way that's safer for everyone."
Officers will still be able to use deadly force when justified, Mew said. One example would be if an officer were issuing a ticket to a driver and someone in a passing vehicle were to point a gun. In that case, the vehicle would not be the primary weapon.