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American Free News NetworkThis is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
Police and Use of Force
Mike Thiac 5/4/2021 5:29 AM
TITLE: Police and Force
With the Derek Chauvin trial completed in Minneapolis, the usual suspects are screaming for police “reform.” Among the issues these “activists” and “leaders” want changed is civil liability law, response to persons in mental health crisis, and police use of force. While I’ll go into more detail on specific “reform” issues later, I think it would be useful to simply look at the use of force overall. What the National Institute of Justice has entitled The Use-of-Force Continuum, from lowest to highest.
- Officer Presence, or Command Presence, if you will. What happens when you are driving and you see a police car? For most people, even if you are not speeding, you slow down. It’s a simple reaction to having a police authority nearby who can take action you may not like, such as giving you a ticket. But there are also other examples where just the presence of a peace officer gives you more civil environment. Countless cops work side jobs at bars, restaurants, or other places where alcohol is sold. When a group of friends go out, seeing a cop there may calm their drinking down, or if one of the friends has had enough, they mention, “Hey man, we don’t want the cop coming over…” Perhaps they just don’t want someone going to jail for public intoxication. Or it may be because one has some marijuana or other narcotic on them, and they don’t want to go to jail for that. Either way, a cop being there brings order to the area.
- Verbal Orders. Just like it sounds, the cop sees an issue, instructs people, and they comply. Years ago, I worked an extra job at a bar, and after the place shutdown people would flood onto the streets. I would instruct them to get back on the sidewalk, and generally people had no issue with this. When asked why, I explained, “The drunk morons driving may take a turn onto this street and run you down. And I hate doing DOA accidents, pain in the ass, tons of paperwork…” One young lady got the point when an idiot driver turned onto our street and then almost hit her. Again, not trying to be a party pooper, just trying to keep people from getting hurt. Or another example, I have a suspect I need to get into custody. And he is not inclined to go. Insuring he can see, and hear it, I get on my radio, and ask for backup. I’ve had to explain to more than one suspect, “You may take me, but two other officers are coming now. Can you take three? And I say two words on this radio, I’ll have fifteen to twenty officers running hot. You won’t win.” They get the point.
- Bodily force. Now things are getting “Physical.” It can be soft force on the suspect’s part, such as refusing to put his hands together, and preventing you from cuffing him. In that case, an officer can use a joint lock or hold technique to force his wrist closer so you can cuff him. Or if the suspect is on the ground, you can place a knee on the shoulder and twist the upper arm, pinning him to the ground. Or if things get more dynamic, it’s hands on fighting, i.e. punch, kick, or other physical force to protect yourself and take the suspect into custody. And when you get to this level, good chance you will go to the next level.
- Intermediate force, sometimes known as less-lethal force. Police have used batons for ages, from the London bobby to the one of New York’s Finest walking the beat. Over the years, intermediate weapons have expanded to chemical spray (e.g. Mace) or Conductive Energy Devices (CEDs, often known as TASERs). Two things to keep in mind about intermediate weapons:
- First, they give the officer a range of options to use in a dynamic situation. If a baton strike brings the suspect under control, great, But if he has a longer weapon, such as a bat, or crutch, Mace, a bean bag shotgun, or a CED will give you more range, and hopefully disable a suspect to remove any intermediate weapons.
- Second, remember, each of these intermediate weapons can be deadly force, depending on how they are applied. Baton strikes above the shoulder are considered deadly force, as they can cause permanent serious injury. A suspect with asthma may have a severe allergic reaction to chemical spray. CEDs can cause serious or permanent injuries if a dart hits a critical area (e.g. an eye or sexual organ).
- Deadly Force. To borrow the definition, “An amount of force that is likely to cause either serious bodily injury or death to another person.” Some examples are obvious, such as use of a firearm at any part of the body. It may be use of an intermediate weapon in a deadly manner. One of my training officers used a baton on a man’s head, and it was justified use of deadly force. Or another unique use of deadly force was Dallas Police using a robot to kill sniper Micah Johnson. A comment I hear occasionally from ignorant people, e.g. the current occupant of the White House, saying of LEOs, “Instead of standing there and teaching a cop, when there’s an unarmed person coming at them with a knife or something, you shoot them in the leg instead of in the heart is a very different thing.” Ah, hate to tell you Joe, a knife is a deadly weapon, so the man is armed. And if I shoot someone in the leg, and I hit the femoral artery, the man will likely bleed out in minutes.
Now that we got the basics, more to come.
Michael A. Thiac is a retired Army intelligence officer, with over 23 years experience, including serving in the Republic of Korea, Japan, and the Middle East. He is also a retired police patrol sergeant, with over 22 years service, and over ten years experience in field training of newly assigned officers. He has been published at The American Thinker, PoliceOne.com, and on his personal blog, A Cop’s Watch.
Opinions expressed are his alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of current or former employers.