At a recent meeting, Milford School District Board of Education adopted a Use of Force policy. The policy allows constables placed in the school the authority to use deadly force to the extent permitted by Delaware statues. Based on the policy, deadly force may only be used when a contable believes “to the greatest extent afforded deference by Title 11, given the circumstances known to the constable at the time in order protect students, school employees or visitors of the Milford School District from apparent death, serious physical injury, kidnapping or sexual intercourse compelled by force or threat.”
“In essence, the strategic decision that we made was to actually reference the statute in the law in our policy,” Dr. Adam Brownstein, a member of the school board who worked with the district on the new policy, said. “And frankly, if anything changes in that statute, we would still be compliant by back referencing the clause in question from a public transparency standpoint. The purpose of this was that with that passing of Senate Bill 147, the use of deadly force, would be reasonable, if deemed reasonable by a “reasonable person.” And the concern that we had was that a constable often has a level of training that is different from what a reasonable person would be and therefore might affect their actions differently.”
Brownstein, who initially did not support the policy, felt that the new language made it clear that the district was abiding by the letter of the law. The new policy forbids constables from using deadly force that an alternative would avert or eliminate imminent danger. Deadly force is also not permitted when the actions are only destructive to school property. Constables are not permitted to use a weapon to signal for help or fire a warning shot. They may also not pursue an individual who has left school grounds.
In addition, the policy only allows a constable to unholster a weapon for maintenance, to secure the firearm in an appropriate area, during training, practice or qualification, or when circumstances create a reasonable belief that it may be necessary to use the firearm for protection.
“And I would like to say historically, in the last two meetings, I’ve not supported this policy, but I am now prepared to throw my support behind the policy as stated,” Brownstein said. “So, thank you, to all those involved.”
School Board President Jason Miller commented that he hoped the district never had to use the policy.
“If we ever do find ourselves in a situation as a district where this policy is applicable, we will be glad to be in compliance with the code and the law,” Board member Matt Bucher said.
The policy passed unanimously.
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