Use of force is a part of the job

first_imgDear Editor,On Thursday, March 15, 2018, there was an exchange of gunfire between the Police and suspected bandits at the Georgetown seawall. Three persons, including two who were on the Police radar, died. There have since been conflicting reports in the media and elsewhere as to what actually took place. Some relatives of the dead men are perturbed over the whole issue, and are seeking justice outside of the Police environment.The debate on the use of force, including deadly force, rages. I am not au fait with all the facts in relation to the shooting, therefore I cannot say if the action of the Police was justified or not. Let me be pellucid: I hold no brief for anyone.As a retired senior Police officer, I am aware that the work of the Police is a dangerous one, and can be unthankful at times. Sometimes the Police are left in a quandary — damned if they do, and damned if they don’t.The International Association of Chiefs of Police sets the following guidelines for Police officers: “A Police officer will never employ unnecessary force or violence, and will only use such force in the discharge of duty as is reasonable in all circumstances. Force should be used only with the greatest restraint, and only after discussion, negotiation and persuasion have been found to be inappropriate or ineffective. While the use of force is occasionally unavoidable, every Police officer will refrain from applying the necessary inflection of pain and suffering, and will never engage in cruel, degrading, or inhuman treatment to any person.“The job of the Police is not an easy one. Death lurks around the next corner. I can recall, during 1996, chairing the closing session of a course for Police sergeants, at Police Headquarters. The then Commissioner of Police, Laurie Lewis, delivered the closing address. Among the things he mentioned was that when a Policeman leaves his home to go on duty, he does not know if he will return home alive. Six hours later, bandits riddled Constable 16418 Adrian Williams, called “Big Six”, with bullets not far from the East La Penitence Police Outpost. He died on the spot. He was the only child of his mother.I subsequently asked Commissioner Lewis not to utter those words again.During the last crime wave, 2002-2008, which was described as ‘The Troubles’, a total of 26 Policemen were killed. The then Top Cop, Floyd Mc Donald, had the sad task of constantly attending funerals and paying tributes to his fallen heroes, rather than giving out awards.The use of excessive force has always been difficult. The use of force, including deadly force, is sometimes a necessary part of the job, but determining what is reasonable is highly subjective. In the landmark case in relation to the use of force, Graham vs Conner (1989), the Court held that the calculus of reasonableness must allow for the fact that the Police are often forced to make split-second judgments about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and are rapidly evolving.According to Nowicki, “The standard according to this decision is the ‘reasonable objective officer’.Nowicki, who is a “use-of-force” expert, posits, “There are three rules relating to the use of force by any officer. Rule number one is that you go home the same way as when you went to work: ALIVE. Rule number two is that you don’t go to prison. Rule number three is that you keep your job. If your use of force is reasonable, you protect yourself, your agency, the community, and even your assailant. But when in doubt, always remember rule number one.”Yours faithfully,Clinton ConwayAssistant Commissioner of Police (Retired)last_img

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