Deadly Force Response Team: How it works

Originally published: November 15, 2013 4:47 PM
By Gus Garcia-Roberts

According to Nassau County Police Department guidelines, officers must call their precinct after a deadly force incident. A supervisor is then dispatched to the scene.

If that supervisor determines that a firearm was discharged, or other deadly force was used, a Deadly Force Response Team coordinator is notified.

The DFRT’s “full team response” — when the officer’s discharge of a firearm caused injury or death — consists of at least four members: a duty chief, an administrative officer, a commanding officer of the police academy and a homicide squad supervisor.

The team secures any firearm used (and gives the officer a new one) and arranges for medical and stress treatment of the officer. The team is required to prepare a narrative report describing the incident for the police commissioner by the end of the next business day.

Suffolk County, instead of using a separate shooting team, has its homicide detectives investigate all firearm discharges by officers that cause injury or death. Suffolk’s department protocols require that shooting investigations meet “minimum investigative procedural standards,” including interviewing all on-the-scene witnesses, photographing and diagramming the scene, and studying all hospital, autopsy and lab reports. Nassau’s protocols do not include such minimum standards and only ask that investigators “ascertain the facts.”

Unlike in Nassau, Suffolk’s detectives are not required to submit the findings of their shooting investigation within a day.

The NYPD has a policy similar to Nassau’s, requiring its own shooting response team to deliver a Shooting Incident Report to the police chief within 24 hours of the incident. But other city deadly force policies differ from those in Nassau and Suffolk.

After any firearm discharges resulting in death or injury, the NYPD requires officers to submit to Breathalyzer tests, and they are immediately reassigned to desk duty for at least three workdays.

If there is any suspicion of malfeasance, or the discharge is considered “legally or administratively problematic,” the NYPD officer is not allowed to keep a department firearm until further notice.