Police Guidelines For Use of Force
Police officers always encounter difficulties when carrying out their responsibilities and especially when handling dangerous situations which endanger their lives. This calls for proper response in their pursuit to protect themselves and the citizens. The United States commission on civil rights states that officers are entitled to use force when apprehending unwilling subjects (Hatch, 2003). The first section of this paper looks into the guidelines on the use of force by the law enforcement officers, the second looks into what happens after a police officer is involved in a shooting while the third delves in the internal affairs investigation proceedings about the Officer involved in the shooting.
Principles governing the use of force by police officers
The police officers are entitled to use force in the event where non-violent methods have failed. They can also use force in self-defense, when defending others, property or when ensuring peace in the society. Restraint should be observed when exercising use of force (Hatch, 2003). Lethal force should be applied only in circumstances against serious injury or death. An officer should consider implications on children and vulnerable people when exercising use of force. The police are accountable in cases of use of force and their actions should be justified in a court of law. Cases of use of force should be immediately reported and recorded.
What happens when a law enforcement officer is involved in shooting
Whenever a police officer is involved in shooting, the injured parties are provided with first aid immediately (Ross, 2016). The on-duty command officer is informed and visits the scene as soon as possible. Notifications to other senior offices from the homicide unit commander to the Bureau of Investigations Deputy chiefs are made. Identification of witnesses and interviews follows. After that, Transportation of involved officers to the police department is done and the officers are interviewed and documented reports on actions taken are sent to the office of the attorney of that district for review. Thereafter, the internal affairs carries out an Independent investigations.
Proceedings of the Internal affairs investigations
In the first stages, the internal investigator interviews the civilian witnesses as well as the complainant (Ross, 2016). The second step involves obtaining the relevant reports, documents and records. These includes investigative reports, officers evidence logs, video surveillance systems, telephone and radio recorders, court transcripts, hospital records and many more. The internal affair then copies this data and preserves it for future reference. In the third stage physical evidence such as body fluids, fingerprints, hair and clothing are obtained to provide investigations lead (Hatch, 2003). Photographs taken during the incident provide very useful evidence especially in cases of use of force. The police officer is then required to undergo several physical tests such as field sobriety tests, buccal swab, blood tests, illegal drugs test and others. Polygraph examinations may be done in cases where the civilian complainant is suspected to have recorded a false statement.
Electronic surveillance, search and seizure are also done where necessary in stage 4. The subject officer may then be requested to stand in a lineup so that the witnesses could view him. Collateral issues are then examined to establish whether there was any misconduct. Another stage requires interviewing the members of the department concerning the investigations and performance of duties (Ross, 2016). Here, a law enforcement officer interviewed could be a witness or a subject and is expected to answer questions truthfully. After the investigations are concluded, the investigator is required to submit a report, summary, conclusion and recommendations for each allegation. Below is an example of a case concerning an officer involved in shooting.
In 2013, a police officer in Texas was charged with manslaughter of a 19 years old Rusell Rios who allegedly stole goods from a store and fled. The officer (Black welder) gave a false report that he committed the crime in self defence arguing that Rios had tried to kill him (Ross, 2016). After investigations, it was revealed that Rios had succumbed to gun shots at the back of his head and that the officer had made false statement.
Hatch, D. E. (2003). Officer-involved shootings and use of force: Practical investigative techniques. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press
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Ross, Darrell. (2016). Investigating Deaths in Custody and Officer Involved Shootings: Protocols for Investigation and Court Presentation. Routledge.
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