Archive for the ‘Use of Force’ Category

Coroner versus forensic pathologist

December 12, 2017

This article reports the resignation of the San Joaquin County, California forensic pathologist over disagreements with his sheriff/coroner. In 50 of the state’s counties a pathologist determines cause of death but then the sheriff/coroner has the final say on manner of death. The resigning pathologist had several deaths that he ruled homicide but which the sheriff labeled accidents, including death-in-custody cases.


Use of force reporting

December 2, 2017

New Zealand Police released a very thorough report and analysis of “tactical options” used during 2016, available here. There was no use of force in 99.9% of 3.5 million public interactions and in over 99% of “offender proceedings.” Tasers were the 4th most commonly used tactical option, after empty hand, handcuffs/restraints, and OC spray. Only 15% of Taser incidents involved discharges — the remainder were solely presentation or “laser painting.” Subject injuries occurred in 18% of use of force incidents, officer injuries in 11%. No subjects were shot by police.

BWC study in Las Vegas

November 28, 2017

This article reports final results from a year-long study of body-worn cameras in Las Vegas, prior to agency-wide implementation. Sample officers wearing BWCs had reduced citizen complaints (30%) and reduced use of force (37%), compared to officers not equipped. The study also estimated substantial cost savings in internal affairs investigations due to the availability of video evidence.

Transparency or public relations?

October 26, 2017

This article reviews police practices in releasing body cam video, noting a tendency to promote positive stories while refusing to provide video in situations where actions might have been improper. This pattern risks hurting police legitimacy if the public comes to believe that officials are cherry-picking what to release rather than truly honoring transparency.

Policy, training, tactics

October 18, 2017

This 4-minute St. Louis public radio story and article discuss the role of policy, training, and tactics in deadly force situations. Public pressure is currently focused on tightening policies, but experts think unnecessary police shootings result more often from poor tactics such as failing to use distance and cover.

LAPD recognizes bravery & restraint

September 29, 2017

This article reports the LAPD’s annual ceremony recognizing heroic actions by officers. For the second year, awards included using restraint when fatal force might have been justified, a category that was initially criticized by the police union but now seems to have gained acceptance.

Who owns the streets?

September 26, 2017

This column provides a journalist’s personal account of being assaulted and detained in St. Louis on Sunday. This commentary┬ásays the events were a police riot and notes that others assaulted by police included an undercover officer and an Air Force lieutenant walking with his wife in his home neighborhood. The city’s mayor criticized┬ápolice chanting “Whose streets? Our streets!” and the acting chief saying “we owned the night.”

Handling protests

September 13, 2017

Nice 12-minute radio interview from Phoenix, where police used tear gas and pepper balls recently to disperse protesters after a small group threw rocks and bottles, and where the department is now holding a series of listening sessions with the community. Highlights the challenge of maintaining safety and security when tensions are high and public views are so divided.

Risk acceptance

September 8, 2017

In this column an army major draws some parallels between soldiers and police in regard to facing danger and accepting risk. He notes that statements made by police sometimes seem to place more value on their own lives than those of others, contradicting moral and professional codes.

Prosecutors need policies too

September 7, 2017

This article discusses the challenges that officer-involved shootings present for elected prosecutors, and argues in favor of having a formal protocol in place before an incident occurs. It also stresses the importance of engaging law enforcement and other stakeholders in the policy-development process.