On this page, you will find a redacted copy of Columbia Borough Police Department General Order 2014-01-01, which is referred to as the Columbia Borough Police Department Use of Force Policy. Section 1123.1 of the Pennsylvania Borough Code gives the mayor authority to direct the “manner in which the chief of police and the police force perform the duties of their rank.” After the Borough received a Right-to-Know request for the Police Department’s Use of Force Policy, the Mayor, pursuant to his authority, enlisted the Police Chief, as well as Borough staff and the Borough solicitor to review the issues surrounded with the release of the Use of Force Policy. As a part of that review, significant legal research was conducted to ensure the Borough was in compliance with all relevant laws and other regulations related to the release. The research led to the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records’ (OOR) final determination in Jo Ciavaglia and the Bucks County Courier Times v. Penndel Borough, docketed at AP 2019-0907, a case in which the Office of Open Records was tasked with balancing the requesters’ interest in receiving the use of force policy and the safety implications for the police department and citizens if the information was released. The OOR decided that while those portions of the use of force policy that were administrative in nature constituted a public record and were therefore subject to release, Penndel Borough was justified in redacting those portions of the use of force policy that were tactical in nature, which included sections related to the use of force continuum, the use of deadly force, weapons authorized for use, and the use of less-than-lethal weapons. A link to the Penndel Borough final determination can be found below. As a result of the precedent established by the Penndel Borough final determination, a thorough line-by-line examination of the Columbia Borough Police Department Use of Force policy was initiated to determine which portions of the Policy should be redacted and which portions should be left unredacted. What you see here is a result of this process. Columbia Borough takes every Right-to-Know request it receives seriously, and never is that more true when a request involves balancing its citizens right to public records with the Borough’s duty to ensure that the brave men and women of the Columbia Borough Police Department are able to safely do their jobs.
Link to Penndel Borough final OOR determination: