Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Cop For A Minute

Just outa curiosity, I wonder if anyone out there has any thoughts about a way or ways cops could bring someone under control without hurting him or putting themselves in danger of injury.

The primary objective is to control one individual. He may be big or small. He may be weak or strong. He may be drunk, drugged, dusted, or perfectly sober. He may or may not have a weapon. He may be calm or violent. He may or may not speak or understand English. All this is completely unknown.

You're a cop. You need to have him under control and compliant, and you need to do it now.

You may not injure him while you accomplish your task. But you may not injure yourself, either. Or allow anyone else to be injured. Not even a scratch. If any of this happens, you lose.

You have 15 seconds to assess and react.

Go.

12 Comments:

Blogger Karen said...

After your post about the tazering, I gave this some thought. I haven't come up with a good answer. There are a lot of new non-lethal weapons available, but all carry risks. If a suspect is high on PCP, nothing but a big-ass hollow point bullet may work. It does seem to me that 4 cops could have subdued one guy without tazering.

Thursday, November 22, 2007 4:51:00 AM  
Anonymous stageleft said...

I have no doubt that there are times when something like a tazer or a baton is necessary, there are other times where all that hand-2-hand and submission training should be put to use, and still other times where simple talk is the most appropriate.

Over the years I have submitted or restrained drunks, put down idiots bent on doing physical damage to another, as well as talked people out of stupidity - I am not now, nor have I ever been a cop, and have no where near the training that they receive. There is no "one action fits all", which is what your question seems to leading to.

Thursday, November 22, 2007 7:41:00 AM  
Blogger Chimera said...

Karen, ya'd think that four-on-one would work just fine, wouldn't ya? But it hardly ever does work without someone's getting hurt -- either the cop or the guy he's tryin' to control.

This isn't directly and only about the Vancouver airport incident. I posted this because I have heard the angry cry before: "Why don't the cops do their job without hurting anyone?"

Few people add that they don't want the cops to get hurt, either. They don't seem to care much that cops can get hurt on the job until a cop ends up dead -- and then they cry for tougher penalties on perps and better protection for cops. And doesn't it always seem to be the same people doing the crying, either way?

We're a nation of Monday morning quarterbacks with perfect 20/20 hindsight. And we can't resist telling other people how to do the jobs we're not willing to do ourselves.

"There is no "one action fits all", which is what your question seems to leading to."

Actually, SL, you're coming very close to what I was looking for. You've got some experience dealing with the need to get someone under control, so you know that there's no one pat answer.

But with the calls around the world now to get rid of tasers, there is a need to fill the gap their absence will leave. There is a need for another method of control that will not lead to injury or death for any of the persons involved.

I've got one idea of something that might work. It's not high-tech, and it's not new, so it's not sexy. But it might work. I want to see if anyone else can come up with anything that might work.

Thursday, November 22, 2007 11:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Neil McKenty said...

I don't have a clue about how a cop should apprehend or control a suspect. However, I should think the general principle is to use only the force that is necessary. Clearly that principle was breached in the B.C. airport killing.

Thursday, November 22, 2007 1:41:00 PM  
Blogger Chimera said...

And how does a cop know how to arrive at only the amount of force necessary?

It's a good theory. All we have to do is arrive at the practical application. But first we need to know what that is and how to do it.

Thursday, November 22, 2007 4:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good post Chimera.

The answer already exists - "reasonable force" It is a legal term that of course only a judge (or jury) can ultimately determine (after the fact, of course)

But police officers receive training in the nuances of this long standing legal notion. It applies to civilians as well. A cut and dried example would be that you can't shoot someone who just punched you in the face if they aren't pointing a gun at you. The response to the situation has to be of equal or slightly greater means to protect your own life and really very little more.

Reasonable force makes a COPS job tough. They have to make quick decisions. The taser example, I think goes beyond reasonable force, given that in one report I read, 70% of people tasered (in BC I believe) were not armed with a weapon of any sort. It seems to becoming a crutch response in some law enforcement circles. The courts will ultimately decide - Taser International currently has over 100 lawsuits in progress against it in the US alone for precisely the kind of question you ask in this very timely and interesting post.

TH

Thursday, November 22, 2007 5:41:00 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

Hows about we teach our police how to use a lasso...

Keep movin', movin', movin',
Though they're disapprovin',
Keep them criminals movin' Rawhide!
Don't try to understand 'em,
Just rope and throw and grab 'em,
Soon we'll be living without crime.

;)

Thursday, November 22, 2007 9:01:00 PM  
Blogger Chimera said...

TH: As you say, the term, "reasonable force" is a legal one. I'm looking for something a little more practical. Clearly defined and easily visualized. A practical tool, if you will (and no, Scenty doesn't qualify; as far as I can make out, he's not at all practical).

I read all I could find about Taser and their current legal entanglements. Interesting to note that in most of their lawsuits, they are the plaintiffs, and they are trying libel chill as a way to silence their critics. A move like that always makes me react with suspicion and curiosity: What are they trying to hide that they need to make people shut up?

Tim: A lasso, eh? You are sooooo close to what I had in mind already. How are your knotting skills?

Friday, November 23, 2007 7:57:00 AM  
Blogger Tim said...

Lets put it this way... I was a boy Scout got the badge... ummmm I am an avid fisherman... Ya I know knots! I can even tie a pretty good noose if you ever find the need for one... ;)

Friday, November 23, 2007 4:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Libel chill does raise some questions doesn't it? Someday, someone may do some really extensive scientific tests on these things and Taser International shareholders will be running for the exits.

As far as the question of this post, yes, I gave you a legal remedy. But, sincerely, this is a notion that has matured over many many years. It is also practical, I believe, for the very reason that it exists in common law and statute by virtue of being tested probably thousands of times over the years.

I respect that COPS have a tough job. I don't object to them using reasonable force per se, I object to the taser which has more than a few question marks hanging over it these days.

What ever happened to the good old baton? Sure, a COP could kill someone with one accidentally (or on purpose) but my guess is that the taser is killing more people than it was supposed to. They never do (clinical) tests of people who are in a heightened emotional state, severe mental illness, on drugs, or with a pre-existing heart condition, do they?

TH

Friday, November 23, 2007 5:27:00 PM  
Blogger Chimera said...

"They never do (clinical) tests of people who are in a heightened emotional state, severe mental illness, on drugs, or with a pre-existing heart condition, do they?"

Bingo!

I'm also looking for a concrete, as opposed to an abstract, suggestion. Something you can actually hold in your hands, rather than a philosophy on when and how to use it. Maybe I wasn't clear in my posing of the question, but Tim's on the right track. Follow...

Tim: So...you wanna get the fish in the boat...whaddaya use? Especially if you're doing catch-and-release, and you need to keep injury to the fish at an absolute minimum?

You tie noose knots, too, eh? I did that at work, once, on a very slow day. It entertained my co-workers and freaked the managers!

Saturday, November 24, 2007 7:23:00 AM  
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