Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Policeman: I Can Use Whatever Force I Want

Based on my observations of them, that's the mode of operation I've always assumed the police operate under. It's good to see one of them come right out and put it down in writing:

[from the AMA report] p. 3—Police officers are legally and morally required to use the lowest level of force necessary to control a situation and to deescalate at the earliest opportunity.

[from this author] REBUTTAL: That passage misstates the law of the land. The United States Supreme Court’s landmark ruling 20 years ago established that the test of legitimacy of a police use of force is whether the force used was “objectively reasonable” under the 4th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States (see Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 109 S. Ct. 1865). Officers are provided great latitude in what force options are appropriate to use to attempt to overcome resistance in a given situation, and they are not required to use the lowest level of force.

Yep, tasing people for running, for already being in handcuffs, for mouthing off, for asking questions, for refusing to sign tickets, for being mentally ill, or for being in diabetic seizure all seem like objectively reasonable uses of force. Christ.

The article at the above link is a mostly disorganized rebuttal of the AMA's latest take on tasing, which coincidentally is being widely ignored in the mainstream media (see this search result for example), is filled with typical Taser International talking points (Amnesty International is bad, Tasers are perfectly safe, any study that finds fault with tasers or their use must be flawed, etc.).

A sad takeaway here is that this author is someone with huge amounts of misinformation and huge amounts of experience in police work. If he represents the best voice law enforcement has on this issue, I'm more frightened than I was before finding this article.