Marion Police Update Their Policies
The Cedar Rapids Gazette is reporting that Marion Police Chief Mike Kitsmiller has added language to the departments policy about the use of force, de-escalation tactics, and banning the use of chokeholds. This follows protests across the nation after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.
Kitsmiller introduced the policy changes for the Marion Police Department during a city council work session on Tuesday. Kitsmiller, who joined the force in September of 2019, told the Gazette that he is proud of the men and women with the police department and that the data shows that they treat people "professionally and with dignity."
The changes to the Marion Police policy include officers only using force to overcome the resistance they encounter. Officers will also use de-escalation tactics to reduce a threat. The Gazette reports that Marion officers are trained in de-escalation but it has never been put into a formal policy. Chokeholds, which were never taught to Marion officers, are now prohibited unless "deadly force is necessary." Another new policy requires officers to intervene if they see another officer using excessive force.
A Black Lives Matter protest is also being planned in Marion. It is scheduled for Saturday, June 20th. Protestors will start in Marion Square Park at 6 p.m. Zakayra Stokes is one of the event organizers. She told the Gazette "we're not trying to break down the police force. We just want them to be fair." Stokes also stated that the group is planning on making the seven police reform demands that the group Advocates for Social Justice are making in Cedar Rapids.