Nome’s Public Safety Commission Approves New Use of Force Policy

Backend of Nome police car.

Nome’s Public Safety Advisory Commission convened this month to discuss the drafted use of force policy. After several cancelled meetings due to COVID-19, and failing to make quorum, the commission did meet on Monday for the first time since October of 2020.

Six of the nine-member commission were in attendance, with one actively absent, and two commission positions remaining vacant.

A draft of the new Nome Police Department use of force policy was presented to the commission by City Manager Glenn Steckman, and Nome Police Department’s (NPD) Deputy Chief Bob Pruckner. Pruckner describes how the draft came to fruition.

“This was drafted by a gentleman that works in the certification of departments around the country, so it’s a best practices and it’s the latest one that’s out.”

– Chief Bob Pruckner

Pruckner assisted the commission’s review, clarifying definitions and outlining how this new policy is different from the last.

“It says on the last sentence, ‘tasers are not permitted when a subject is passively resisting. In other words, they have to be in active resistance for that to be utilized. Non-compliance is not a reason to use a taser, they have to be physically trying to escape or trying to assault you in order to use that level of force.”

Steckman continued while referencing the incident from this past summer where a Nome man was tased and pepper-sprayed while not actively resisting.

“What happened at BOT [Board of Trade Saloon] would not have been allowed to happen if this new use of force policy was in place back then.”

– City Manager Glenn Steckman

After review, the commission approved the drafted policy without any additional modifications. The motion to approve passed unanimously.

The commission also discussed a community member’s complaint about NPD. Pruckner described how a call was made to dispatch, an officer responded to investigate, and ultimately the officer did not follow up with the citizen who made the original call.

“I looked at the officer’s response time and I followed his radio logs to find out exactly where he had went and if he did a thorough search, but we didn’t communicate that back to the caller. So they’re required now, the dispatchers, to ask that question, ‘Do you wish to be seen by the officer?’  Prior to clearing the call, now the officer is compelled to ask, ‘Is there is anyone for me to see?’ So that we don’t have the miscommunication of somebody who felt like they had more to say, but not a chance to say it.”

– Chief Bob Pruckner

The Public Safety Advisory Commission is next scheduled to meet on April 5th and intends to discuss plans for how NPD will seek accreditation.

Image at top: Nome Police car parked outside of the station. Photo by Brisa Alarcon, KNOM.