Carson City - July 28, 2020
In light of recent high-profile incidents across the country, the Nevada Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) has re-examined its use of force policies through the lens of minimizing potential harm to those who interact with the juvenile justice system.
The Division regularly reviews its policies and procedures to ensure that the youth are safe while in the Division’s care or supervision.
Campaign Zero’s “8 Can’t Wait” project includes eight policies to make use of force more restrictive. One of the policies does not apply to DCFS, and DCFS had already previously adopted some of the policies. The policies of the 8 Can’t Wait project are:
• Banning chokeholds and strangleholds
• Requiring de-escalation
• Requiring warning before shooting
• Requiring exhausting all alternatives before shooting
• Duty to intervene
• Banning shooting at moving vehicles
• Requiring use of force continuum
• Requiring comprehensive reporting
The policy to not shoot at a moving vehicle is not applicable to DCFS programs as staff do not carry firearms.
Banning chokeholds and strangleholds were previously adopted for DCFS residential facilities and newly adopted for youth parole and required de-escalation had already been implemented across the Division. Newly implemented or enhanced policies include the duty to intervene, use of force continuum and comprehensive reporting.
“The policy I anticipate making the most difference for us at DCFS is the proactive duty to intervene. While we have always required the reporting of suspected or witnessed abuse or neglect, the duty to intervene will adjust our use of force culture from one of reporting after the fact to putting a swift end to inappropriate uses of force,” said Division Administrator Ross Armstrong.
DCFS staff do not carry firearm, but trained staff at the facilities and in the Youth Parole Bureau do have access to OC spray, commonly known as pepper spray, which is addressed in the use of force policy and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). Warning before shooting and exhausting all other measures before shooting have been incorporated as a requirement for use of OC spray.
“Our Statewide Youth Parole team is a dedicated, trained, educated and well-disciplined group. Our mission is to assist families though one of the toughest times in their lives,” said Chief of Parole David Laity. “Our employees strive to make meaningful relationships, provide services and guidance to families in crisis. We are partners in their journey though the Juvenile Justice System and our goal is to keep everyone safe.”
The updated policies for residential juvenile justice facilities and parole will be adopted on July 24, 2020. Each facility and youth parole will now develop SOPs and train staff with the goal of full implementation by September 1, 2020.
As of July 14, 2020, DCFS has 155 youth in residential facilities and 297 youth on parole. The new SOPs and additional training provides our staff with more guidance to keep the youth in DCFS’ juvenile justice system safe from harm.
The Division of Child and Family Services is a division within Nevada’s Department of Health and Human Services that oversees child welfare, children’s mental health, juvenile justice and victim services.
DCFS data and policies are available on our website.
Campaign Zero is a project of the non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, WeTheProtesters. Campaign Zero provides an analysis of policing practices across the country, research to identify effective solutions to end police violence, technical assistance to organizers leading police accountability campaigns, and the development of model legislation and advocacy to end police violence nationwide. Visit the 8 Can’t Wait website to learn more about their policies.