How to decide if lethal force is appropriate quicker than you have been

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Thread: How to decide if lethal force is appropriate quicker than you have been

  1. #1
    Member Array JudoJake's Avatar
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    How to decide if lethal force is appropriate quicker than you have been

    In law enforcement we are taught proper use of force.

    1. Officer presence
    2. Verbal Direction
    3. Soft Empty Hand
    4. Hard Empty Hand
    5. Intermediate Weapons; spray, Taser, Batton
    6. Lethal Force

    If you are a cop, then you are probably using some sort of guide line, to decide what level of force is appropriate. It may be different, but I'm sure it's similar.

    Scenario, you show up(officer presence) and two people are slugging it out in a parking lot. You tell them, "Break it up!" The don't respond to "verbal direction" and keep fighting, you decided that "empty hand" would not be appropriate, so you pull out your spray and employ it(intermediate weapons).

    That's the typical scenario and they thought process right? Agreed?
    Is this a good system? Cops use it every day, it works, but I don't think that it puts officer safety first. Because your mind never touched on the possibility that you might have to use "lethal force", which should always be your first concern. Their is, in my opinion a better way.

    We have a major problem in our business with officers that can not mentally decide to use lethal force until it is to late(I've nearly been guilty of this myself). Thank God for his protection, and I'll take as much luck as I can too, thank you.

    I think that part of the problem is that the Officers are starting at the bottom, "Officer Presents/verbal direction", and then working their way up and deciding to use MORE force as the go. What if they started at the top and then worked their way down, deciding to use LESS force as they go?

    Same scenario:

    Two guys slugging it out. Officer shows up and asks himself, "Is lethal force appropriate?" No. "Is pepper spray appropriate?" Yes. Bingo, employ the spray.

    It took the officer less time to decide because he started at the top. And the more critical the incident the shorter time you have to decide. In a lethal force situation, you need to figure out what is going on and respond immediately. So asking yourself right away if you need lethal force is appropriate. If no force is necessary then you have all the time in the world to analyze the situation so time isn't critical. You haven't lost anything if it takes you a second or two too decide that verbal direction is appropriate, because if that were true then no threat would exist.

    Dose that make scene or did I just confuse everyone?

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  3. #2
    Distinguished Member Array ArmyCop's Avatar
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    Good point. I like that method better than the other.
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    Interesting concept... provided the individual can RIGHTLY discern if lethal force is, indeed, necessary.

    And hopefully you don't end up asking yourself, "Is lethal force necessary?" Thinking it is not, attempting to deploy lesser means of defense and then having to revert back to lethal force because non-lethal was not enough.

    Either way you go, forward or back, you still have to be able to identify the situation and force needed (which in some cases can be darned near impossible). Best guess is all we get.

    Do we err on the side of caution and which side might that be? Lethal force or non?

    It will make your head hurt..lol

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    The only problem that I can see with that is when a force level used gets outed in a courtroom.

    If you deviate form whatr was taught at the academy, you are opening yourself up for trouble.

    Saying that you went from the top down rather than the bottom up will more than likely get you tore up by the opposing laywer, who, if they had any sense at all could probably make you out to sound like the bad guy in front of a jury.

    Deciding on the appropriate use of force comes from experience more than anything.
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    Distinguished Member Array bandit383's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HotGuns View Post
    Deciding on the appropriate use of force comes from experience more than anything.
    I agree in part...but not necessarily personal experiences. I would venture to say that many experiences expressed on DC have aided many in the appropriate use of force.

    Rick

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    I also think that as an older citizen (not LE), the calculating of which way to travel on the order of force is a lot different.

    I have no duty to arrest, or think about the levels of force other than my ability to ignore, walk away, or defend myself and my family from a perceived threat.

    I better be darn sure of the need for lethal force and my sense of a personal threat.
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    Member Array JudoJake's Avatar
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    I'm not sure that you are deviating form the system. The system only requires that you use an appropriate level of force. It doesn't really mandate that you go up or down. It's just that we tend to do it that way. I do not see any legal issues with it, due to the fact that, using either method, if the force wouldn't have been reasonable you wouldn't have used it.

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    As LEOs are regular practitioners of this, I will say that they probably do not go through the checklist, they immediately identify the appropriate level of force, then adjust as necessary. Being in the middle of an encounter is not the best time to have to think "A...no, B...no, C...no, D...yes, E...standby".
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    Senior Member Array dunndw's Avatar
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    One of my instructors summed it up pretty well I think. He called it the IDOL concept.
    Immediate
    Defense
    Of
    Life
    For the civilian world I think it's appropriate
    I doun't know if he came up with it himself, but I stole it from him fair and square.
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    Senior Member Array mulle46's Avatar
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    I use what I think is a common sense approach, I will go a force level higher(if its short of lethal force being used against me) than what the BG is using. As an example, if the BG's attempting to punch or kick me, I'm using spray and or my baton if possible. IMO, LEO's don't have to match force with equal force, its not a sport out there. Decide to be aggressive enough, quickly enough. OMO.
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    VIP Member Array mcp1810's Avatar
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    I think one of the problems is that different departements may categorize different tools of the trade as different levels of force. Some may indicate that you are to use electronic devices before chemical agents or their scale may put tasers after impact weapons.

    The big thing is excessive force. If you don't start at the bottom of the scale how can you prove you used the minimum force necessary to handle the situation? If there is any injury to the involved parties someone is going to see dollar signs. If you deviate from your agencies written policy on escalation of force, are they going to help defend you or tell you to get your own lawyer?
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    I'm not talking about EXCESSIVE force. Nor am I talking about using the MINIMUM level of force. If you are always striving to use the minimum level of force, then I think you are putting yourself in more danger than you are required to.

    You are NOT required to use the MINIMUM level of force, you are required to use a REASONABLE level of force. If you use a reasonable level of force then it is justified.

    If you determine that the Taser is justified, that doesn't mean that you can't work your way further down the list and try to use soft empty hand. It just means that if the soft empty hand isn't working, you will go to the Taser much quicker, because you have already determined that it is justified, before(and not after) you attempted soft empty hand.

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    VIP Member Array mcp1810's Avatar
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    So how do you know that what you consider "reasonable" force is the same thing internal affairs, a judge and jury consider "reasonable"? If you have a written policy from your department that clearly spells it out then you are covered. If there is no specific policy, "reasonable" becomes open to interpretation.
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    Generally the test for what is reasonable is what another officer would have done in your position. Of course all of this is relative because you have unique experience, training, and ability. Because officers are unique they are not expected or required to respond the same way.

    If you have ever run scenario based training for officer, you quickly noticed that even experienced officers deal with situations differently. That's OK as long as they don't use excessive force and that they have good officer safety skills.

    Every officer must be able to articulate why they did what they did. It has always been this way. I'm not suggesting that you do anything that you can't articulate.

    Despite the nightmare scenarios you hear about in the media and the academy, the courts overwhelmingly side with the Law Enforcement officer as long at the force was not excessive. In other words as long as the Officer can articulate his actions. Which shouldn't be a problem.

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