Fayetteville approves police department’s first officer-involved shooting policy

Fayetteville Police Chief Greg Tabor speaks to aldermen during a City Council meeting held Tuesday inside City Hall.

Fayetteville Government Channel

City Council members on Tuesday unanimously approved an ordinance which establishes procedures for both the response and investigation of a police officer-involved shooting.

It’s the first of its kind for the department.

Police Chief Greg Tabor said it’s not often that an officer in Fayetteville is involved in a shooting, but he wanted to put on paper what the department’s practices are following such an event.

“Fortunately, we have an officer-involved shooting so rarely that when we do have one, we tend to go back and forth with each other asking, ‘How did we do this last time?’,” Tabor said. “So what this does is it puts in place our practice, so that not only does the officer know what to expect…but it also gives the public an idea of how we’re going to operate.”

The policy includes a list of on-scene procedures that must take place immediately following an officer-involved shooting, as well as the steps required once the officer returns to the department headquarters.

The new rules also establish procedures for both an internal investigation and an independent criminal investigation by an outside agency which must occur.

The policy covers instances when an officer fires their weapon at any person, even if nobody was struck by a bullet. Weapons fired during training practices or for the humane termination of a critically wounded animal are not covered by the policy.

According to NWAOnline, there have been seven officer-related shootings in Fayetteville since 1999. The most recent incident occurred in late April when a 33-year-old man was shot multiple times by an officer during a struggle inside a moving car following a traffic stop on College Avenue. The officer was later cleared of any wrongdoing by both an internal investigation and the county prosecutor.

Alderman Justin Tennant praised Tabor’s department, calling it one of the best in the country and said it is part of the reason why the city is considered to be one of the best places to live.

“I’m very proud of what they do,” said Tennant. “This is the sort of thing that puts people at ease more and gives all the information to the citizens that they want and deserve.”