Use of Force Information

Use of Force Overview


It is the policy of the Morgantown Police Department to use the least amount of force possible in dealing with both individuals and groups of individuals in order to gain compliance. The response to resistance and aggression by employees of the department will, whenever possible, be progressive in nature. This force may be in the form of advice, warnings, persuasion, verbal encounters, physical contact, use of less lethal weapons or the use of deadly force.

All officers are required to submit a use of force report for the following situations:   

  • When the use of physical techniques is used to gain compliance
  • When the use of intermediary device (pepper spray, Taser, Asp) are used to gain compliance
  • When the display of a firearm is needed. (Dangerous or armed subjects)
  • When deadly force is used.
All use of force reports are reviewed first by the officers immediate supervisor and then by the Chief of Police or his/her designee. A determination is reached as to policy compliance and justification of the use of force. The MPD has not had any recorded incidents of the use of deadly force.

The Morgantown Police Department is committed to the highest standard of courtesy and professionalism in all contacts with the public and between employees in the workplace. Bias for or against any person because of race, gender, religion, politics, ethnicity, national origin, life-style, economic status, age, culture or other identifiable group characteristic, or similar personal characteristics IS PROHIBITED. Employees must avoid taking action or using language that is reasonably understood to be derogatory to any such group, or reflects bias for or against any such group.

All statistics provided are analyzed regularly to assist decision makers in identifying trends and making informed choices on policy and procedure. The MPD encourages readers to review the information and contact us at epowell@morgantonwv.gov, or by phone at 304-284-7522 with any questions. 

Applicable Policies


MPD Policy 106 on Use of Force.
MPD Policy 311 on Body Cameras.

Required Training


Annually, all officers must successfully complete the Legal Update course. Legal Update training will include a focus on prohibiting bias-based profiling, ethnic or cultural diversity, community relations, and professionalism toward the public and in the workplace, including legal aspects of bias-based profiling (MPD Policy 113). 

Morgantown Police Officers are required to attend annual training in the use of Firearms (twice a year every year). Refresher training on use of all intermediary weapons by annually and defensive tactic (physical techniques) bi-annually. Choke holds have never been taught in the defensive tactics course, and such techniques are strictly forbidden and are not an accepted means of restraint or compliance in those circumstances the use of choke holds is considered excessive. However, if an officer is engaged in a physical struggle with a person in which the officers life or the life of others may be in jeopardy an officer may use any form of physical tactic to gain control of the person.

Use of Force Statistics


The information compiled below provides information on use of force incidents by the Morgantown Police Department from January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2019. It should be noted that many times multiple officers respond to the same incident and that a single incident might involve more than one suspect. In following the progressive nature of overcoming resistance, an officer may employ one form of use of force that may not be effective which requires a higher level of force to be used. All attempts of varying levels of use of force may be documented in a single incident.

2019 Use of Force Data


In 2019, there were 72 reported use of force incidents. Of those, 36, or 50%, physical techniques were used; 18, or 25%, pepper spray was used; 9, or 12%, a taser was employed or displayed; and 8, or 11%, a firearm was displayed, in one instance a collapsible baton was used.

2018 Use of Force Statistics


In 2018, there were 56 reported total use of force incidents. Of those incidents, 22, or 39%, physical techniques were used; 17, or 30%, pepper spray was used; 10, or 17%, a Taser was used or displayed; and 5, or 8%, a firearm was displayed but not used.