Police Deptartment Ride Along File (copy)

A Bozeman Police Officer responds to a call on Dec. 2, 2016, in southeast Bozeman.

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The Bozeman Police Department has convened a review board to investigate potential wrongdoing related to the use of force by three officers during an arrest earlier this month in downtown Bozeman.

The board will be composed of three BPD sergeants. Police Chief Jim Veltkamp said he’s requested the board conclude the review and send its report to him in the next few weeks and that he will release a synopsis of the board’s findings after he receives them.

The department’s review of its officers will indicate whether the officers involved should receive any form of retraining or discipline.

“They’ll describe a summary of what occurred, often the tactics that were used, areas of concern, possible training issues,” Veltkamp said. “Are there department policies that should be changed? Did they do things according to best practices? …. They look at it from a pretty holistic view, not just from one angle.”

The arrest the department is assessing happened on Rouse Avenue near downtown on Sunday, Sept. 12. The department had received a report about a woman mooning people downtown, including children, after leaving a bar. Indecent exposure to minors is a felony in Montana.

A video taken by a bystander and sent to the Chronicle and the police department showed three officers pinning the woman to the concrete. Two bystanders who were not affiliated with one another told the Chronicle that they saw an officer punch the woman in the face while the two others restrained her on the ground.

The responding officers were Officer Andrew Kappler, Officer Ryan Jeppson and Officer Zachary Garfield, according to dispatch records. Sergeant Justin Chaffins also responded later in the arrest to bring a WRAP restraint, which is designed to restrain people being arrested from hurting themselves or others.

In the video provided to the Chronicle, a bystander is heard saying, “I saw one of you hit this woman in the face.” The officer in the center — whose identity is unclear in the video — says, “Yeah, I did.” A different officer held his knee on the woman’s head and jaw at several points during the video.

Arresting documents say the woman “resisted arrest physically and slipped out of handcuffs on two occasions.”

Bozeman United for Racial Justice, a local organization of racial justice advocates, announced plans for a march on Saturday afternoon in protest of the way the arrest was handled. The march — called A March to End BPD Violence — is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. at Beall Park and conclude at the Bozeman Police Department’s downtown substation.

BURJ has also started an online petition demanding the department fire the officers involved and reallocate their salaries to crisis response services. At the time of publication, the petition had received just under 300 signatures.

BPD’s use of force policy states: “It is important to note that an officer does not need to gain control over an individual by use of the lowest level of force available when reason dictates otherwise and the officer can articulate that a higher level of force was reasonable.”

Veltkamp was not able to convene the review board, which he said happens several times per year, until a use of force report had been completed and sent to him. Use of force reports are required every time an officer uses force or threatens to use force by drawing a weapon.

“They have to do a written use of force report anytime any use of force above low level is utilized,” Veltkamp said. “Low level is officer presence, simply showing up in a uniform is a form of force, and the other is basic restraints, like simply putting handcuffs on somebody … anything above that requires a use of force report.”

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Melissa Loveridge can be reached at mloveridge@dailychronicle.com or at (406) 582-2651.

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