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LOCAL Announcement :: Civil & Human Rights : Police State

SCPD General Orders now Online

Santa Cruz Copwatch is pleased to announce the availability of part of the Santa Cruz Police Department General Orders as of 12-29-2004 online.

If you have ever had any questions as to the proper Santa Cruz Police procedure and behavior according to local, state, and federal laws, the SCPD General Orders is probably the most thorough and detailed document available to find the answer. It is also sometimes helpful in finding out what the city expects the behavior of the public to be in certain situations.

The General orders are available at:

Santa Cruz Police Department General Orders as of 12-29-2004

Generally all police departments have General Orders, Departmental Bulletins, a Duty Manual, or some other documents setting priorities, clarifying laws, and defining procedures. Many have them are available for review at the police department or the library. Some even have the whole thing online like these departments.

I found that Santa Cruz did not have their general orders available through any of these venues. So, I submitted a California Public Records Act request asking for a copy of the General Orders. The request ended up taking almost three months to fulfill, which was a little surprising since I believe every officer is supposed to be given a copy of these orders implying copying should be easy to do. The Police Records and Services department was very nice and polite in my dealings with them and offered to give me the copies for free since they took so long, but not wanting to be seen as inappropriately using Santa Cruz taxpayer money I offered to pay for the copies anyway.

The portions of the manual that exist in electronic form are below. The actual manual is 788 pages and I am working on scanning the whole thing into PDF and will make it available here when I am finished. I have heard from the Independent Police Auditor that the new Police Chief Howard Skerry and the City Council are currently working on updating many of the General Orders, so there may change dramatically in the near future.

I found GO #45, GO #42, and GO #99. I'm not a lawyer but my understanding is that #45 requires officers to use their in car video and audio recording for all stops and carry a wireless microphone. #42 restricts the ability of officers to hold second jobs while being a full-time police officer and asks them to not act as police officers while working as an off-time security guard. Which is good to hear since other cities do not directly ask officers to not use their plice badge as private security guards, but we still have the problem that a SCPD officer does not make enough to buy the average house in Santa Cruz. #99 says that a Taser is NOT a substitute for deadly force, asks the officer to try to only use it when back up is present, and to not threaten the use of a Taser unless the situation is appropriate for the actual use of it. Tasers are also not to be used on pregnant women or where the victim may be likely to cause harm to themselves by falling great heights or into a hazardous environment. Another interesting note, not in the General Orders currently online, is that SCPD officers are not to smoke while interacting with the public in an official capacity, which I do not remember seeing any officers in Santa Cruz doing, but happens often in Berkeley, and I wonder what Berkeley's policy is on smoking.

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