Magazine for police and law enforcement
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vive the encounter." Some of the research that was used as the foundation of the PERF guidelines resulted from a trip to Scotland by sev- eral U.S. law enforcement leaders, to see how business is done over there. Scotland doesn't have a gun-crime problem, but they confront a lot of knives. As if on cue, within 24 hours two po- lice ofcers (one with the New York Police Department and one with the Califor- nia Highway Patrol) were attacked and wounded by knife-wielding suspects. THE WRONG TRACK No doubt some (perhaps many) PERF members agree with the organization's 30 Guiding Principles. But not everyone agrees with all of them. As a longtime PERF member and also a longtime mem- ber of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), I and quite a few other PERF and IACP members I've spo- ken with do not necessarily think PERF is on the right track with some of its specifc recommendations. Here are a few comments I received in early February from police chiefs, train- ers, and use-of-force experts: • "Why should my safety not be more im- 28 POLICE MARCH 2016 think the law should be, versus what the training and the law allows for," Vanita Gupta, the Department of Justice's as- sistant attorney general for civil rights, told the Washington Post. Gupta said a national conversation about police ob- jective reasonableness was potentially "revolutionary." PERF Executive Director Chuck Wexler wrote in an e-mail to all PERF members: "In short, PERF's members are telling us that we need to take use-of-force policies and training to a higher standard than what is currently required by the court system. Te Supreme Court's landmark ruling from 1989 in Graham v. Connor provides guidance on when police of- cers are allowed to use deadly force, but it doesn't provide guidance on how to avoid use of deadly force. In certain types of situations that occur thousands of times a year, police are confronted with persons wielding knives, rocks, or other weap- ons—not guns. In these cases, we are ask- ing police departments to begin rethink- ing strategies and equipping ofcers with the appropriate training and tactics to de- fuse these potentially volatile encounters, in a way that ensures that both the ofcers and those they are dealing with may sur- PERF's "30 Guiding Principles" call for de-escalation training, slowing down incidents when possible, and thorough incident investigation and review processes. portant than anyone else's?" • "A smart cop reading through this bulls--- will salute smartly, smile, promise com- pliance, and then go out and do nothing, or as close to nothing as he can do with- out being fred or ruining his career." • "I agree with the stated concern of how to 'raise the standard' and still have a consistent standard that ofcers can understand… But I don't know how you change the standard for fast-moving situations where the ofcer is faced with a quick, threatening movement, even when the perceived threat turns out not to be a threat." • "I was sorry to see PERF not address training in basic skills." • "Much of the material is good, but it lacks that practical side that only comes from spirited, well-rounded, and edu- cated debate." DISSENTING VIEWS The IACP quickly responded to PERF in an e-mail to its membership: "[T]he IACP is extremely concerned about calls to require law enforcement agencies to unilaterally, and haphazardly, establish use-of-force guidelines that exceed the "objectively reasonable" standard set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court nearly 30 years ago (Graham v. Connor). Te cre- ation of a multitude of difering policies and use-of-force standards throughout the United States would, undoubtedly, lead to both confusion and hesitation on behalf of law enforcement ofcers, which in turn would threaten both their safety and that of the citizens they are sworn to protect… As we move forward in examin- ing law enforcement's policies and train- ing procedures regarding use of force it is imperative that any reforms be carefully researched and evidence-based." Te next day, the Police Foundation re- leased an infographic titled, "When Can the Police Use Force—and What Happens When Tey Do?" And in related remarks, the Police Foundation wrote: "Use of force is governed by laws at the federal and local levels, and its justifcation is dependent on the reasonable perspective of the involved ofcers at the very moment force was used—not on thoughtful, retrospective examination and questioning. Articulat- ing and explaining this information to the public is critical because these incidents Police Executive Research Forum Use of Force: 30 Guiding Principles http://www.policeforum.org/assets/30%20guiding%20principles.pdf Police Foundation Use-of-Force Infographic http://www.policefoundation.org/general-resources/use-of-force-infographic/ REFERENCES PHOTO: ©ISTOCKPHOTO.COM A REVOLUTION IN USE-OF-FORCE POLICY AND TRAINING?