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Thread: Officer Jeopardy

  1. #16
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    Thanks, Ellis - I'd read a short summary of that story but not the whole thing, and been on vacation since, so I did not post it myself.

    I'd hope that people realize that black police officers shoot unarmed black suspects as well - Tennesee v. Garner, one of the two major case law decisions that govern police use of force, stemmed from a black police officer shooting a fleeing felon that was also black. He also happened to be fourteen years old fleeing from a house he had just burglarized. This decision changed the standard for use of deadly force against a "fleeing felon." Once again, the system adjusting, as we are experiencing it do so now.

    I would also like to point out that the pot-stirring emphasis on "unarmed" has almost no bearing on whether or not deadly force was justified under a particular set of facts. Similarly, there are cases where it would NOT be justified to shoot an armed suspect...

    If a suspect carrying no weapons decides to engage in a physical fight with me, is clearly overpowering me, and then attempts to take my weapon, it is justified to use deadly force against that person so long as that attack continues. Similarly, if an unarmed suspect is engaging in aggressive behavior which could cause serious bodily injury or death, deadly force is also justified; if a suspect mounts me, begins landing huge overhand bombs to my head, bouncing my head off the concrete sidewalk, or if he grabs and starts bashing my head against the ground, deadly force is justified. I don't have to wait for him to do so - if he mounts me and starts striking, or starts trying to take my gun, the force is justified.

    Also, if there is a major disparity in fighting ability, size, strength, etc. deadly force may also be justified; If I am a 120lb, 55 year old grandmother police officer and a 250 lb body builder on a cocktail of steroids and meth decides to attack me, I am pretty much justified in deadly force immediately. Any single blow from such a suspect could seriously injure me or even cause death.

    Lastly - unarmed does not mean that the suspect did not have something on their person or act in such a way as to make law enforcement believe they are armed. I have seen this numerous times in my career: suspects acting like they have a weapon at their waistband or in their pocket and at times even goading us to kill them. Often times, you are - pretty sure - they don't have a weapon - but other times you don't know. Even when you are pretty sure you are taking a gamble, because action always beats reaction and the one shot they take may be the one that goes through your brain.... So, if we reasonably believe that a suspect has a weapon and is making a move to access that weapon and use it, deadly force is justifiable.

    There are times when even armed suspects are NOT shot. Most cops have those stories, too. Those don't make the headlines, however.

    Other times, because the nature of the situation allowed a more tactical approach - to include the so-called "militaristic" SWAT response with armored vehicles and heavy gear and the like - which allowed officers to continue to negotiate with a suspect who was actively firing upon them. I've been there, done that as well, including one situation where a guy was shooting arrows at us! There are numerous stories of teams being engaged even with hunting rifles who were able to take cover behind armored vehicles, contain a situation, and talk a guy out.

    The narrative is just so much more detailed and complex than is represented in the news and activist media.

    Could there be improvements? Of course. But I re-iterate, our society is having to face up to some big questions about how we train and deploy our cops right now...

    I will give just one example: If I were to have a very high level of defensive tactics skills, I might rarely, or never, have to fall back on a deadly force response in an "unarmed" situation. If I could keep a suspect from bashing my head in - even a larger and stronger one, that is also artificially physically enhanced with any number of drugs or mental health issues -if I could keep them from taking my gun, if I could keep them pinned on the ground effectively, deadly force might not ever enter the situation. But this is the real world: the ten hours (or less) a year that officers are taught a stew of ineffective martial techniques culled from aikido, krav maga, Filipino stick dueling (?), or sport jiujitsu techniques won't ever make them competent or confident in empty hand skills. LE DT training is simply check the box, if it happens at all. LE continually defaults to technology to close the gap: retention holsters that prevent the gun from being taken (they don't. And what if he tears the whole holster off your belt? (it happens). What if you were caught mid draw so the retention straps aren't buttoned? If the gun was in your hand because your rounds on missed or were not effective? ), Tasers that work some of the time as advertised, much of the time not quite or not at all....and which some still won't consider a legitimate less lethal tool....

    Ok...one more briefly - most LE firearms training is to a level that makes people barely functional with a gun-under the minimal stress of a qualification, let alone under "tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving" circumstances. If all that is going on, decision making will be even harder as the brain is occupied with just trying to run the gun....

    If one thing comes out of this, and it seems like it is headed that way, hopefully training will be improved.

    Several other factors leading to the unrest in Ferguson (vetted all the way up through the DOJ), having nothing to do with the shooting, are also hot spots in how LE does its job. That has a lot more to do with a lack of vision and lack of leadership in agencies nationwide more than anything else. In this realm, too, I think we will see some changes.

    But that is for a different post...
    Kit Leblanc

    In Harm's Way

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  3. #17
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    Police shootings should be tracked by public health sector, according to Harvard initiative
    The American public can’t tell for sure how many people die in police shootings each year. Despite the FBI’s new reporting initiative, a group of Harvard researchers now wants to view shootings as a “notifiable condition” – similar to reporting a disease.

    Treating the matter as a public health concern will expedite reporting and allow health agencies to register the incidents quicker, much like a case of measles or another infectious disease, scientists say. They outlined their views in a an editorial in the PLoS Medicine journal, explaining how the new public health approach would help do both – track civilians shot by police more rapidly, and improve reporting on police officers killed on duty. And it proposes to do so without involving new legislation or cooperating with local police departments. Instead, the researchers want the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to handle the statistics on a weekly reporting basis.

    The proposal comes after years of wrangling over inadequate data on civilian deaths at the hands of the police.

    “Public health is concerned with myriad determinants of population health and health inequities, including determinants that are not solely with the public health system,” author of the proposal and professor of social epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Nancy Krieger, explained to Healthline.

    The reason an adequate system for police-related deaths has still not taken off, according to the researchers, is that the law enforcement sector continues to be opposed to the data being made public – “a long-standing and well documented resistance.”

    However, the debate has reached new highs of controversy since Michael Brown’s shooting in Ferguson last year, and the topic of unarmed young people being killed by police gained nationwide notoriety.

    In 2014, some 14,250 people were shot dead, according to FBI statistics. We also know that 51 percent of law enforcement officers died in the line of duty, and 45 percent by accident. The number of civilians killed by police, however, is not revealed.

    According to The Counted, a project operated by the Guardian, an estimated 1,058 people were shot by police in 2015. The number is twice as high for African-Americans as for white people.

    “It is unacceptable that the Washington Post and the Guardian newspaper from the UK are becoming the lead source of information about violent encounters between [US] police and civilians. That is not good for anybody,” FBI director James Comey said at a meeting in October.

    On Tuesday, the FBI said it would revamp the system for tracking fatal shootings, promising to release data on all such incidents. Stephen L. Morris, assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division, called the current FBI system a “travesty” in an interview to the Washington Post, adding that the new system will be “much more granular.” It would include not only data on all parties involved in the shooting, but also the level of danger faced by the officer, as well as weapons used by both, and other details.

    Most importantly, the data will be collected and shared with the public in “near real-time,” as the incidents occur, Morris said, instead of being mentioned only at the end of the year.

    For the Harvard researchers behind the public-health-reporting initiative, this is not enough. Police shootings “affect the well-being of the families and communities of the deceased; therefore, law-enforcement-related deaths are public health data, not solely criminal justice data,” they say. The civil unrest created by mass outcries over the shootings, according to the researchers, is disruptive to normal public life, and is therefore also a public health matter.

    Furthermore, the number of people killed by police each year is equal to the number of deaths in serious disease outbreaks, the authors write.

    “We propose that law-enforcement–related deaths be treated as a notifiable condition, which would allow public health departments to report these data in real-time, at the local as well as national level,” they write.

    Talking to Healthline, Krieger also pointed out a shift in public health agencies’ attitudes towards tackling problems once considered to be outside the public health sector. She attributes this to evolving imbalances between different life sectors, which could involve variables such as “poor housing, food policy, low wages, and inadequate transportation systems.”

    Although law enforcement’s position on reporting police-related civilian deaths is known, Krieger’s initiative isn’t about “wrongful action by the police,” said Tim Lynch of the Cato Institute’s Project on Criminal Justice, according to Healthline.

    “When investigations are complete, we will learn whether the incident was justifiable, accidental, or perhaps criminal.”

    The group has still not worked out how the mechanics of the system would work, but Krieger proposed to launch public-health reporting as a supplement to existing verification sources, similar to that of the Guardian.

    https://www.rt.com/usa/325417-police...gs-health-cdc/
    Nullius in verba

  4. #18
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    Oh I'm all for that kind of tracking; I'd be far more expansive:

    Police shootings in which officers use lethal force, shootings in which suspects use lethal force, the incidents in which police could have used lethal force but did not (this often doesn't even get reported at all), the incidents in which officers were assaulted and suffered injury, weapon retention incidents and the outcome, the incidents in which officers were able to forestall a shooting due to initiative (stopping a suspect from drawing a gun or knife, for example, or on a search warrant preventing the suspect from getting to or using a gun).....only that would tell the whole story.

    I don't work in a very large or very violent city. We are immediately adjacent to a larger, more violent one, but still nothing like the big cities in the Midwest or Socal or the East Coast.

    In my 18 year career I was at the academy when armed bank robbers detonated a bomb at one location, robbed a bank at another, then engaged multiple officers with a long gun and with hand grenades (!) when officers began a pursuit, and early on I was present for the murder of a deputy when a suspect drove his truck into the deputies car on containment (this after the suspect stepped out of his home, pointed a rifle at officers on containment positions, was not engaged, and then tried to flee). Suspect was taken into custody.

    In the last ten years I was myself shot in the chest on a hostage rescue situation, and multiple additional officers shot at; a sergeant I work with was shot in the chest (vest) on a traffic stop of burglars; then one officer shot in the helmet and one other in the vest on another incident trying to contact a suspect who had just shot his sister - several other officers shot at in that one as well; another officer shot multiple times in the face and arms approaching a vehicle on a traffic stop; one officer stabbed repeatedly in the face by a suspect with a screwdriver coming within inches of his carotid artery; several officers have had their guns attempted taken and a couple actually had tasers taken from them; and so on...that's just a smattering of the many, many other incidents, but the others had different outcomes for differing reasons.

    Again - I work in a mid size city without a really serious crime problem. Yet these things happen...
    Last edited by Hissho; 7th January 2016 at 19:25.
    Kit Leblanc

    In Harm's Way

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  6. #19
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    Kit --

    If you view this as a medical epidemiology issue, then tracking the information becomes fairly simple. (Tedious, but simple.) Specifically, you start tracking the workers comp claims for the individual agency, then compare that agency's data to other agencies' data. You can also do this state-by-state. See, for example, http://www.ingentaconnect.com/conten...00001/art00005 and http://www.jstor.org/stable/41844199...n_tab_contents .

  7. #20
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    Hey Joe! How are you?

    That would be a way to track those cases where injury occurred - although it would also track things like exposures to TB, to other biohazards such as MRSA, hepatitis, HIV, and other nastiness from bites, needle sticks, and the bloodborne issues that are a part of regular LE functions - which should also be made more known.
    Kit Leblanc

    In Harm's Way

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    My concept involves re-envisioning this as matter of public health rather than as a function of law enforcement.

    This could be tricky to pull off, however. The reason is that research follows the grant money, and law enforcement grants are separate from public health grants.

    ***

    In your tracking, you might also want to add injuries incurred during defensive tactics training. Knees, shoulders, necks, fingers, and of course the occasional death are all associated with defensive tactics training.

  9. #22
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    <brief interlude>
    I have so little to offer on this thread (and let's face it, most others on E-Budo), but I am so grateful for those who take the time to add to the sharing of knowledge. Without an open discussion with informed contributions, all I'd have is the demonstrably stupid coverage by News Media. I know that some of the converstions have happened before, but each time I see the topics I learn a little more. Thanks for all your efforts. It is appreciated.
    <please continue>
    David Noble
    Shorinji Kempo (1983 - 1988)
    I'll think of a proper sig when I get a minute...

    For now, I'm just waiting for the smack of the Bo against a hard wooden floor....

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  11. #23
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    Thank you, David - it is an opportunity to discuss some "inside baseball" matters that I think give the discussion more detail.

    Joe -

    While that would be useful I think it might muddy the waters a little. It's been shown that LE is not at all the "most dangerous job." Some industries suffer more work related deaths and accidents each year. Even if you included things like on duty heart attacks and stress related leave we might find the same (though we know the suicide rate for LE is higher than statistical average).

    But what I like to point out is that its not the death/injury rate:

    Its how many injuries and death come by the malevolent intent of other people. Most often in very close quarters. That is a very different kind of experience and stress that most people have no personal experience with, let alone many times over in the course of a decades long career. How many potential deaths and injuries were averted through tactics, negotiations or luck occurred as well - because the experience of "that was close, if not for XXX I or my partner coulda been killed" has an effect on the brain, the body, and the spirit, too.

    Also, injuries by overt act or omission (needle sticks, for example, come when suspects don't tell officers they have uncapped needles on them, or in a few cases, when suspects intentionally carry needles in a manner intended to stick someone patting them down or searching them...)

    You noted DT deaths - those are more accident related - although there have been deaths over the years in Simunitions training when a live weapon was brought in to the training site and an instructor or student pulled it and shot a fellow officer (interestingly often NOT during exercises but in the down time). While those are also at the hands of others they are not intentionally inflicted injuries.

    These experiences have a cumulative effect on people doing the job. We are talking about Blue Courage in the Guardians vs. Warriors thread. A major part of that - the part which I most strongly support - is realizing this cumulative effect and what it may mean for you as a person, more than as a member of LE.

    I don't talk much online about when I was shot, but the fact of the matter is I had very little experience of what people would call PTSD from that. I bear no personal animus against the guy that shot me - it was not personal, he shot me because I was a cop trying to stop him, not because there was a personal vendetta between us. We'd never met, and he could have cared less. He shot at other cops as well. I can take it personally about as much as I would take getting bitten by a vicious pit bull personally. I also have had no issues going in under shots fired and other circumstances, because still today, as on that day, I do believe part of my job is risking my life to save others. On the day I got shot, the hostage we were trying to save was in fact an accomplice of the shooter, going along for the ride, a fellow drug user and hanger-on who also could have cared less that we were risking our lives to "save" him. He got a year in jail. Even that I don't have a concern for because it did not change what we thought we had and why we needed to go in.

    Had we disdain for the people we serve, I don't see how it makes sense that we run down the barrel of a gun to save one from another.

    I credit a lot of my personal processing of all that to inculcation with a martial ethos, if not necessarily the technical skills, of specifically the older bugei. I don't want to drift too much into the Blue Courage topic here, but this has been a prime mover in my personal career, and which I stealthily place in a lot of the training I give. Reading what I blather on about here at E Budo, it should come as no surprise to most folks.

    Not everyone has that advantage. I know of two people who suffered a great deal from their brushes with death; one in which in the aftermath he was isolated from his departmental support system - when he finally was able to talk he broke down crying in front of the tactical team - and one in which he was struck by fire but in the vest. Both of these men dealt with that experience in very unhealthy ways in their private lives that had a huge impact on their professional careers - rightly so based on what they did.

    I'm just trying to make a point: facing the potential, or very real liklihood, of your own death is an intensely personal experience whether or not that threat is actually real. If you *think* its real, its real, and it impacts different people in different ways, both as its happening and in the aftermath. There really is no measure or quantification for that, and no one can place themselves in an officers shoes who has not been there, and tell him or her that they "should not have thought their life was at stake" until and unless it is clear that they were totally unreasonable in the use of force when the totality of circumstances is known. Do unreasonable instances happen? Of course, we are human, prone to error. We have a few examples of it and no officer I know defends the indefensible cases.

    But in some, you can't know. We work under another law, Graham v. Connor, which states that LE cannot be judged based on 20/20 hindsight. Some wise people put that in place, even before what we know of Force Science, because they know that you cannot *know* when you know a lot more than the people that were there knew at the time.

    If that makes sense..
    Last edited by Hissho; 9th January 2016 at 20:11.
    Kit Leblanc

    In Harm's Way

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  13. #24
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    This is a great book on these topics we have been discussing here vis-a-vis perception, interpretation, and expectation- and naïveté. Good exercise for the open mind:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/193277...under+pressure
    Kit Leblanc

    In Harm's Way

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  15. #25
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    To keep the Positive Examples thread positive and less political - pulling from the same article posted there:


    "The numbers tells us that policing is increasingly safer," he said, "part of an overall downward trend" in killings.
    (emphasis mine - Kit)

    "There are 57,000 felonious assaults per year — and an average of less than 50 officers feloniously killed," he said, "this is 50 out of thousands."

    The 39 officers killed by intentional gunfire last year is less than the annual average in each of the past five decades. (Those figures ranged from 57 annual police killings in the 2000s, to 127 in the 1970s.) "We focus on severity of risk and exaggerate probability of risk," Stoughton told NBC, "that leaves officers in a position of poor risk assessments." He also stressed "that doesn't make the family of the officer feel better."
    http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/...eflect-n497591

    This begs clarification: just because an officer doesn't die does not diminish the threat or impact of a felony assault...judging officer safety on whether or not you are actually killed is questionable at best, and incidentally can only be determined in the aftermath.

    That is the same as me telling a victim of a shooting or stabbing - or even a gun being pointed - well you didn't die so it really wasn't all that threatening.... see the problem here? Or "he pointed a gun at you, or he shot at you but he missed. You weren't even injured. So it's not really all that serious..."

    We are still looking at tens of thousands of felonious assaults - how many more could have ended with officers dying because the rounds that hit them were fatal: I've been shot through the chest. I didn't die by dint of mere centimeters of luck. That does not change the fact that someone attempted to murder me and wasn't successful.

    A coworker was stabbed repeatedly in the face and neck with a screwdriver when attempting to control a man on the ground during an arrest; one stab wound nearly punctured his carotid artery. He didn't die. Wasn't really even that seriously injured in the grand scheme of things. That does not change the fact that a potentially deadly assault was perpetrated upon him and serious and possibly fatal injury was only avoided by luck.

    How many assaults-that-could-have-been deaths were because of mere luck? Were forestalled because the officer was able to seize initiative and use force to overcome the threat before they were injured? Or were simply due to greater and greater advances in protective armor?

    Do these even "count?"... So, while I am very glad that fewer officers are killed, just because we don't die when shot or stabbed doesn't necessarily translate as "safe."

    Other recent figures:

    2014

    Assaults

    In 2014, of the 48,315 officers assaulted while performing their duties, 28.3 percent were injured.

    The largest percentage of victim officers (30.8 percent) were assaulted while responding to disturbance calls.

    Assailants used personal weapons (hands, fists, feet, etc.) in 79.9 percent of the incidents, firearms in 4.0 percent of the incidents, and knives or other cutting instruments in 2.0 percent of the incidents.

    Other types of dangerous weapons were used in 14.1 percent of assaults.

    Expanded assault details have been included in the 2014 publication. These details include data for assaults during which officers were injured with firearms or knives/other cutting instruments and are located in new tables and selected narratives.

    - Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted, 2014

    https://www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/pr...-and-assaulted


    2013

    Overview

    In 2013, the FBI collected assault data from 11,468 law enforcement agencies that employed 533,895 officers. These officers provided service to more than 247 million persons, or 78.2 percent of the nation’s population.

    Law enforcement agencies reported that 49,851 officers were assaulted while performing their duties in 2013.

    The rate of officer assaults in 2013 was 9.3 per 100 sworn officers.

    Injuries

    Of the 49,851 officers who were assaulted in 2013, 14,565 (29.2 percent) sustained injuries.
    31.0 percent of the officers who were attacked with personal weapons (e.g., hands, fists, or feet) suffered injuries.
    14.6 percent of the officers who were assaulted with knives or other cutting instruments were injured.
    10.9 percent of officers who were attacked with firearms were injured.
    27.0 percent of officers who were attacked with other dangerous weapons were injured.

    https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/uc...pic_page_-2013


    In light of these numbers the following from the NBC article linked above are telling:

    "Last year, estimates of fatal police shootings of civilians ranged from 965 to 1,136, including the killing of about 90 unarmed people, according to The Washington Post and The Guardian." (...and we are tracking at 48-49K officers assaulted with some 28-29% injured.)

    and

    In its (Cato Institute - no shill for LE) last annual report, in 2010, it documented 4,861 unique allegations of misconduct against 6,613 officers, including 1,575 allegations of excessive force

    Cato draws its numbers from....the Media..and only includes what it considers "credible." Whatever the criteria are I don't know. But let's just accept this number of allegations.....most of which will be unfounded. But let's even say that these are legitimate.

    These don't even account for all uses of force - most of which do not result in injury to officers or suspects. That is, out of many tens of thousands of uses of force - including those were officers are being feloniously assaulted and nearly a third injured - and a far greater number where officers are not injured, some 1500 involved an excessive force complaint. We won't even get into whether they are legitimate or sustained - most are not. Let's just assume for the sake of argument that ALL of these are legitimate.

    Is that...would that be....a problem? Of course!

    Is that a problem pervasive in law enforcement, with by different accounts 500-600 thousand police officers having contact with citizens many millions of times every year?

    Obviously not.


    One way to parse that national data: In a given year, roughly 99.1% of officers are not accused of any misconduct, let alone convicted of it.

    Remember misconduct includes simply "the officer was rude."
    Kit Leblanc

    In Harm's Way

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