by Ms. Julie A. Droessler, Esq.
Montgomery Co. Sheriff's Office
When common sense was thrown out the window by a plaintiff’s attorney, well-documented policies and training supported by CALEA accreditation led the Judge to rule in favor of law enforcement. A case right on point is Glowka v. Bemis, et. al. 3:12-cv-345, United States District Court, Southern District of Ohio decided by Judge Timothy Black, where CALEA saved the day.
In the above referenced case, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) located in Dayton, Ohio successfully stood behind its training and use of force policies to defeat a frivolous claim pertaining to excessive use of force. Two MCSO deputies were sued in federal court after arresting an individual who attempted to flee and resist arrest. Some of the plaintiff’s/arrestee’s claims included; excessive use of force, assault and battery, failure to train, failure to discipline and ineffective policies on use of force.
After weeding through the claims, the Court generally found the undisputed facts in the case to be as follows:
- The MCSO annually trained on use of force policies at its Training Center;
- The MCSO documented all use of force training provided to the deputies, including the named-defendant deputies;
- The MCSO Training Center trains the deputies to only use force consistent with the MCSO policies;
- The MCSO is accredited by the commission of Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) and utilizes CALEA endorsed policies and procedures;
- The MCSO policies comply with the CALEA standards;
- The MCSO quarterly tracks and analyzes the use of force by individual deputies for evaluating training, which exceeds CALEA standards.
After accepting these undisputed facts, the plaintiff’s sole argument rested upon one deputy having prior use of force policy violations thereby insinuating a failure of the discipline and training program which amounted to “deliberate indifference”.
Contrary to the plaintiff’s argument, the Court found that the “MCSO’s program of training and oversight, which is CALEA-approved...and at times even exceeds, national standards…evidences neither a failure to train and supervise, nor deliberate indifference toward the safety of the community.” Glowka v. Bemis, p.10. Further, the Court found that the MCSO implementation of “strict investigative and disciplinary procedures regarding use of force incidents” resulted in the defendant/deputy not incurring any use of force incidents for over four years. This CALEA supported training and documentation rendered the plaintiff’s subjective opinion moot.
When the Court began to review the claim pertaining to the “specific policy or custom that was the “moving force” behind the plaintiff’s alleged constitutional violation,” the Court cited the MCSO’s CALEA accreditation. Id. at p.13. The Court indicated that the MCSO, “a CALEA-accredited department, had thorough policies and procedures in place to strictly govern the use of force.” Id. Essentially, the uncontroverted evidence of the MCSO procedures and training programs did not support plaintiff’s claims.
Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer said, “Our dedication to adhere to the letter and spirit of the CALEA standards since 1986, saved the department from paying outrageous monetary damages to a convicted felon, turned plaintiff. This is just one more reason, the MCSO will continue to comply with the CALEA accreditation standards and encourage other agencies to follow in our footsteps.”