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Use of force

PostPosted: Fri Dec 05, 2014 3:31 pm
by Tailsteak
Let's take race out of it (in so far as that is possible).

Let's take socioeconomic class out of it (in so far as that is possible).

Let's even take law and morals and ethics and whether or not murder is bad out of it.

I'm gonna say this: if you have a gun, and pepper spray, and a taser, and handcuffs, and combat training, and a car, and the ability to call for backup... and then someone who is unarmed and who has none of that can make you so afraid for your own personal safety that you can think of no possible response other than to draw your gun, point it at their center mass, and keep pulling the trigger until you hear a click... then you are bad at your job.

Again, let's ignore whether it's self-defense or murder and whether or not a trial should have gone forward and whether the cop in question is racist. Can we not agree that if someone who has lethal weapons feels his life is threatened by someone who does not have lethal weapons, and can think of no way to defend himself other than to kill, that this person is profoundly lacking in intelligence, let alone skill or bravery or good judgement? Can we not agree that such a person is incapable of walking down the street in uniform, let alone serving or protecting a community of any sort?

And y'know what? Let's just make that a general rule for weapon ownership. If you are able-bodied, uninjured, and have a gun, and you are facing one person who does not have a weapon, then shooting that person may or may not be technically legal, but it still makes you a bad gun owner and someone who should not have said gun.

Anyone disagree?

Re: Use of force

PostPosted: Fri Dec 05, 2014 3:40 pm
by JustinReilly
Probably not Robert Peel, but hey, let's not be pedants, OK? wrote:PRINCIPLE 1 “The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.”

PRINCIPLE 2 “The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police actions.”

PRINCIPLE 3 “Police must secure the willing cooperation of the public in voluntary observance of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the public.”

PRINCIPLE 4 “The degree of cooperation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force.”

PRINCIPLE 5 “Police seek and preserve public favor not by catering to the public opinion but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.”

PRINCIPLE 6 “Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient.

PRINCIPLE 7 “Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.”

PRINCIPLE 8 “Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.”

PRINCIPLE 9 “The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.”

This is what modern policing started with. Kinda sad how far we've come.

Re: Use of force

PostPosted: Fri Dec 05, 2014 9:41 pm
by crayzz

Re: Use of force

PostPosted: Sat Dec 06, 2014 2:46 am
by Nepene
I don't think it's good in these cases to try and portray whoever did it as stupid or poorly trained. Every story you read about a cop involves a real person who probably did a lot of training and is reasonably smart and so it's good to work out, from their perspective, why the event happened.

Why would a person repeatedly shoot at the center mass of a person when they had other options?

They've probably had a lot of training with a gun. They know that if a person is more than 21 feet away and they have a knife they can probably reach you with a knife. They have drawn and pulled out their gun thousands of times till it's heavily ingrained in their muscle memory.

They've done this in a calm, gentle environment, in a safe place surrounded by their colleagues.

They've been repeatedly told to be wary of these dangerous people, that they could be on drugs or have a knife at any time.

So they get in this sort of situation. They're with someone that their brain has classified as a severe threat, that person is a little bit impolite. Their pulse is racing, they can't think, they have tunnel vision absolutely focused on this person in front of them. They twitch...

... and there's a dead person in the distance, bleeding from a host of wounds, as you stand there panting with an empty gun.

I can imagine myself making those errors. I can imagine a lot of people making those errors.

This is heavily a training issue. You have to avoid training people to make their first muscle memory impulse a gun. You have to give people adrenal training so that when they get nervous they don't make so many mistakes. You have to work hard to avoid letting people dehumanize those on the streets. You have to have a strong culture of accountability so people worry about mistakes. You need to teach people de-escalation strategies and how to avoid escalating situations into violence. When people fail at those things they need to be either retrained or taken off the streets.

The police department has no real desire to do these things so a lot of people have these issues. Maybe some of them are a bit better trained or have slightly better impulses. Some have worse.

Re: Use of force

PostPosted: Sat Dec 06, 2014 9:19 am
by Tem
Tailsteak wrote:And y'know what? Let's just make that a general rule for weapon ownership. If you are able-bodied, uninjured, and have a gun, and you are facing one person who does not have a weapon, then shooting that person may or may not be technically legal, but it still makes you a bad gun owner and someone who should not have said gun.

Anyone disagree?


No. Sounds sensible. Actually, I am of the opinion that no one who hasn't a damn good reason why they need a gun should have one. That works quite okay in Germany, and if "hobby" wasn't a reason why one is allowed to own a gun (not carry, though), then we would have even less murders. (The last school shooting we had was because a psychologically instable boy had access to his father's guns, and was allowed to practice shooting.)

While it is technically true that it is people who kill people, not weapons, weapons do make the killing considerably easier.

Re: Use of force

PostPosted: Sat Dec 06, 2014 2:04 pm
by MysticWav
I'd like to offer two points of disagreement for you, Tailsteak.

1) If you are armed with a gun, and the other person is not and they come after you, if you take the option to use the gun away, the armed person is no more defended than the unarmed person. So I don't see how you can simultaneously claim that the person who is armed with a gun can simultaneously be judged as having the self-defense high ground but also be judged as incompetent if they have to use it. Obviously this does not apply to most situations such as someone running away from you or someone who will indeed freeze when a gun is pointed at them. But for someone charging you? At that point you either have to say the armed person /does not/ have an advantage /or/ is cleared to use their armed status.

2) Your analysis also ignores the scenario where the armed person's defense is not the sole issue at stake. Police officers are also tasked with defending /everyone else in the area/. Sometimes they don't have the luxury of getting in their car and driving away or waiting for 5 other guys to arrive and help them subdue a frothing madman with a knife or even just bare fists. This sometimes forces them to either intervene or insert themselves in a situation where their own safety becomes jeopardized in a way it normally wouldn't in a one on one scenario.

This is not to defend some of the incredibly inept cases we've been seeing in the news lately. It's just to offer that we can't speak in absolutes that legitimate scenarios wouldn't arise.

Re: Use of force

PostPosted: Sat Dec 06, 2014 3:24 pm
by luislsacc
To quote yourself
Tailsteak wrote:Actual violence (not boxing or judo or wrestling - actual violence) is, by its very nature, unpredictable. One should always assume that, in any instance of actual violence, there will be unanticipated factors that could result in one becoming dead or permanently disabled.



If you own a gun, and are being assaulted ( or they're not yet assaulting you, but charging you, etc.) by a person of reasonably equivalent size, weight, etc - heck, most times even if they're smaller, as long as you can't reasonably keep them at bay from youself - then what's going to come out of that is really random. Add to that the possibility that the person, while grappling (what mostly occurs in fights between people and they're both seriously going at it, I've seen orange belt karate fighters get into a fight and skip the strikes and going for grappling and pulling/ smacking) gets a hold of your gun. Now the tables have turned. If we're assuming that in this scenario the other person started it, you're pretty much out of luck - there's an able-bodied person who seriously intend you harm, and has even begun to try and harm you, and now they've got a gun, adrenaline pumping etc. So, logical conclusion, if you have a gun, don't get into fights (heck, don't get in fights period, if you're not practising combat sports of some kind). However, if the other person starts a fight, the most secure way of ending it is to use your gun. I'd say a gun owner is a bad gun owner if he picks fights, but using a gun for its intended purposes, legitimately, strikes me as excluding it from being a fail.

Here's a story that happened to me, for context on why I think this.
I have always had some form of pocket knife on me since I was about 10. Not to harm people or anything, I enjoy some wood carving, and knives are great general purpose tools. I've only used one in self defence once ( and I've been robbed multiple times even after turning 10).

I was going down the stairs to the subway, listening to music, and this mangy looking guy asks me something. I stop, remove my headphones and ask him to repeat his question. He tells me that his friends will come down the stairs and around the corner of the wall and beat me up if I don't give him my money. I do, because if you're being robbed collaborating is the right thing to do, even let him look through my wallet, and he then decides he's going to look through my pockets. Now, I am a larger man than most in my country, in all respects ( 193 cm tall, average is around 170cm, plus I am quite rotund). If all it came down to was fighting him to a stop, I could've probably done it. But at that point I believe he has friends waiting to jump on me, can probably outlast me on stamina, for long enough for them to come, at least, and I have no idea what else he has on him that he can pull out, and now he's about to get his hands on my knife. Yeah, I can't let that happen. As he looks around to see if nobody is coming, I pull out my knife (thankfully it was one hand opening) and say something along the lines of the most stereotypical things you've ever heard ( it was similar to "I'll cut you!", as I recall). He makes the right call, and bolts around the corner calling his friends, and I make the right call for me and run right into the subway station where they have security guards, and it pretty much ends there, I go home, heart pumping, looking around to see he hasn't followed me.

The point of this story is to illustrate, things were bad for me already, allowing the robber to get access to more advantages over me would have been worse. Escalation should be avoided, not prohibited.

*Edited to fix code error on my part.

Re: Use of force

PostPosted: Mon Dec 08, 2014 10:39 am
by Deepbluediver
Tailsteak wrote:I'm gonna say this: if you have a gun, and pepper spray, and a taser, and handcuffs, and combat training, and a car, and the ability to call for backup... and then someone who is unarmed and who has none of that can make you so afraid for your own personal safety that you can think of no possible response other than to draw your gun, point it at their center mass, and keep pulling the trigger until you hear a click... then you are bad at your job.

Again, let's ignore whether it's self-defense or murder and whether or not a trial should have gone forward and whether the cop in question is racist. Can we not agree that if someone who has lethal weapons feels his life is threatened by someone who does not have lethal weapons, and can think of no way to defend himself other than to kill, that this person is profoundly lacking in intelligence, let alone skill or bravery or good judgement? Can we not agree that such a person is incapable of walking down the street in uniform, let alone serving or protecting a community of any sort?

And y'know what? Let's just make that a general rule for weapon ownership. If you are able-bodied, uninjured, and have a gun, and you are facing one person who does not have a weapon, then shooting that person may or may not be technically legal, but it still makes you a bad gun owner and someone who should not have said gun.

Anyone disagree?

I don't want to come across as an indignant self-righteous know-it-all-jerk, but my honest first reaction to this is to ask how many situations have you been in where you honestly believed that your life, or the lives of someone you cared about where threatened by another person"?
How often have you physically fought with another person to the utmost of both your abilities, with intent to harm or incapacitate the other?
How much experience do you have with shooting guns? With shooting guns at people? What is your medical experience with gunshot wounds?

First, let me talk a little bit about my experiences with fear. I was a diver for many years, and while I liked the sport, most divers will admit that it's highly mental. Every survival instinct for the past 100 million years is screaming at you NOT to fling yourself into air and attempt to contort into all kinds of crazy poses. The adrenaline surge, the altered perceptions, all of it's true and nothing can really prepare you for dealing with it until you've tried it out for yourself. I've had YEARS of practice at forcing my body to obey what I wanted it to do despite everything it was telling to me to the contrary, but those fight-or-flight sensations never go away, and you are always dealing with everything through them.
From what I've read about military training it's not dis-similar, in that they drill you over and over again to subvert your normal panic instincts so you can keep yourself alive and get your job done, but you don't not-feel afraid, and you certainly don't have weeks or months to examine your decision and think about all the social, political, and philosophical implications you have. You're still acting on instinct, just different instinct.
It doesn't necessarily excuse what someone does, but please try to keep that in mind when you want to judge their actions or their character.

Secondly, how much melee-combat have you done? I joined the karate club at my school, and sparred a bit with a few of the amateur MMA enthusiasts. Again, I'm gonna resort to telling stories.
In karate class we didn't pull punches, exactly; our instructor taught us as if we would actually have to use this stuff, and we just adjusted out stance so the rib-breaking hits fell a few inches short. Once, while practicing some rapid-fire exercise, I misstepped and moved into a punch instead of away from it, and the other guy, who was about my size, drove his fist right into my sternum at nearly full force. It felt like he'd caved in my entire chest, or that my lungs had suddenly been filled with ice. I dropped to my knees and nearly passed out since I couldn't inhale, and had to take a 5 minute break before I could resume practice. And this was during the time I was still diving, so despite being a varsity athlete in the best physical condition of my life, one solid hit was all it took to completely disable me. At that point I wouldn't have been able to fight off a 10-year old.

I also did wrestling a few times, and I will say that nothing, in my entire life, was so exhausting as 3 minutes of grappling with another person. In case you've never done it, overpowering someone else through sheer physical strength requires every single muscle in your body working at peak capacity attempting to wear down the other guy doing the same. You could easily expend an entire day's worth of energy in a few minutes. And if your opponent is large or stronger than you? Or heaven forbid there's more than one person? You're basically done. Maybe a top-tier MMA specialist could do it, but police have to actually be police- they can't spend 8 hours a day training for submission holds and takedowns and conditioning themselves to be like Olympic athletes.

And, even when cops try that, it doesn't always result in the most favored outcome. I don't know how much national news it's made compared to the shooting, but recently in New York some cops tried to arrest a man who fought back, except that he had asthma and diabetes, and apparently the struggle was so fierce it triggered his condition and he ended up dead. Search for "eric garner" if you haven't heard about it.

Now lets talk about guns and gunshot wounds. I've never been shot, thankfully, but from what I've read, a single gunshot wound is not usually fatal if you get fast medical attention. More than that though, it's not even guaranteed to disable someone. If your adrenaline is pumping, or you've got something else in your system, or just from the trauma itself you might not even feel it for several minutes. Cops are trained to shoot until someone goes down because anything less may not have any real affect. And despite what Hollywood tells you, shooting-to-disable isn't often an option. Limbs are orders of magnitude harder to hit than a persons torso, and have even less immediate impact (unless maybe it's a shot to the knee) than body-hits. I believe some politicians here in New York who where advocating shoot-to-disable actually accepted an invitation to go to a gun range and try it out, and just about every one of them admitted that it was far harder than they thought it would be to hit anything except that largest target presented. I haven't found a reference yet; still looking. If I can't find it I may withdraw this point.

Also, you don't really want cops shooting-to-miss, whether it's a warning shot or otherwise. Just because the cop didn't hit the person he was aiming at doesn't mean the bullet magically stops. You certainly don't want to risk hitting anyone else who might be standing behind your target.

Pepper spray? There are videos on youtube of it having absolutely zero effect on people.
Taser? Might work, but they are very close-range weapons and tend to be single-shot. If you're up against a fast-moving target or multiple enemies, you want something else in your hand.
Nightclub? Does beating someone until they can't stand really sound less violent to you than shooting? And again, if you're up against multiple people you might as well be tossing feathers at them.
Calling for backup? Ok, sure, but it can take time to arrive. Several minutes is an eternity in a violent standoff.
A car? What can that be used for? Ramming someone or running away. Most cops don't really like the "flee for your life and let a violent criminal go loose" method of conflict resolution. And I'm pretty sure if cops start using their cars as weapons then they'll get in more trouble than actually using weapons as weapons.
And the gun itself, if you draw it and don't use it? Suppose a policeman is disarmed. Now the person in question has a weapon that he didn't before. From what I've read, this is considered a worst-case-scenario, and should be avoid at all costs.

Finally, the idea that having a gun means you absolutely should not should shoot someone who doesn't have a weapon in their hand is bullshit. As much as I like you TS, the whole point of having a gun is to be able to defend yourself against someone who is physically better than you in any way, or in a situation where you can't be expected to defend yourself otherwise (for example against multiple attackers). If you had a gun, and I attacked you with my bare hands, would you rather let me beat on your for as long as I wanted, possibly killing you, rather than use that gun?
Now, not to try and make this to personal, but think about someone like a woman (your wife or girlfriend, maybe?) being attacked by someone like me (6 feet tall, ~185 pounds, athletic) Unless she's secretly a master of krav maga or escrima or a bodybuilder, the sheer physical difference puts the odds decidedly against her. Are you saying it's morally indefensible for her to use a gun to defend herself?


I support cops trying everything else they can before resorting to using a gun. I support investigating every accusation of excessive force thoroughly. I support almost anything else that you might suggest to reduce the occurrences of excessive force, such as body-cameras. However, I feel that saying that cops shouldn't shoot people until they are being shot-at first is a ridiculously unfair standard.

Re: Use of force

PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2014 6:00 am
by Nepene
Deepbluediver wrote:
And, even when cops try that, it doesn't always result in the most favored outcome. I don't know how much national news it's made compared to the shooting, but recently in New York some cops tried to arrest a man who fought back, except that he had asthma and diabetes, and apparently the struggle was so fierce it triggered his condition and he ended up dead. Search for "eric garner" if you haven't heard about it.


He surrendered, and told them that he couldn't breathe. They continued holding him in an against regulations lock hold that blocked his breathing. Predictably, he died, using the last dribbles of oxygen and carbon dioxide in his collapsing lungs to beg them to let him go. They compressed his neck and sat on his chest, preventing him from expanding his chest to draw in more air. Asthma and diabetes made it worse, but they did most of the damage.

It partly comes from a myth- if you can speak your airway isn't constricted. That's something they say in first aid classes, though it's more that if you can speak your airways aren't blocked by vomit or whatnot, and then applied to situations where it doesn't apply. You need to be able to expand your chest to breathe (high volume means low pressure) but you can speak by collapsing your lungs even if you can't expand your lungs.

Now lets talk about guns and gunshot wounds. I've never been shot, thankfully, but from what I've read, a single gunshot wound is not usually fatal if you get fast medical attention. More than that though, it's not even guaranteed to disable someone. If your adrenaline is pumping, or you've got something else in your system, or just from the trauma itself you might not even feel it for several minutes. Cops are trained to shoot until someone goes down because anything less may not have any real affect. And despite what Hollywood tells you, shooting-to-disable isn't often an option. Limbs are orders of magnitude harder to hit than a persons torso, and have even less immediate impact (unless maybe it's a shot to the knee) than body-hits. I believe some politicians here in New York who where advocating shoot-to-disable actually accepted an invitation to go to a gun range and try it out, and just about every one of them admitted that it was far harder than they thought it would be to hit anything except that largest target presented. I haven't found a reference yet; still looking. If I can't find it I may withdraw this point.


There are options other than shooting to kill. Cops don't have an especially dangerous job- roofers, refuse collectors, farmers, miners all have more dangerous jobs and they aren't given a right to kill. Cops can tolerate a little danger subduing people.

Pepper spray? There are videos on youtube of it having absolutely zero effect on people.
Taser? Might work, but they are very close-range weapons and tend to be single-shot. If you're up against a fast-moving target or multiple enemies, you want something else in your hand.
Nightclub? Does beating someone until they can't stand really sound less violent to you than shooting? And again, if you're up against multiple people you might as well be tossing feathers at them.
Calling for backup? Ok, sure, but it can take time to arrive. Several minutes is an eternity in a violent standoff.
A car? What can that be used for? Ramming someone or running away. Most cops don't really like the "flee for your life and let a violent criminal go loose" method of conflict resolution. And I'm pretty sure if cops start using their cars as weapons then they'll get in more trouble than actually using weapons as weapons.
And the gun itself, if you draw it and don't use it? Suppose a policeman is disarmed. Now the person in question has a weapon that he didn't before. From what I've read, this is considered a worst-case-scenario, and should be avoid at all costs.


These were mostly non violent criminals who got killed because the cops saw capturing them or defeating as more important than their lives. I'd prefer if the cops let people flee and didn't shoot them in the back. I'd prefer the cops didn't kill people for the most part.

I support cops trying everything else they can before resorting to using a gun. I support investigating every accusation of excessive force thoroughly. I support almost anything else that you might suggest to reduce the occurrences of excessive force, such as body-cameras. However, I feel that saying that cops shouldn't shoot people until they are being shot-at first is a ridiculously unfair standard.


The whole, guns don't kill people immediately applies to other weapons. If the cops avoid shooting and killing people they won't inevitably die. Some of them will, but not all of them. And far less innocents would die.

Re: Use of force

PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2014 8:51 am
by Deepbluediver
Nepene wrote:He surrendered, and told them that he couldn't breathe. They continued holding him in an against regulations lock hold that blocked his breathing. Predictably, he died, using the last dribbles of oxygen and carbon dioxide in his collapsing lungs to beg them to let him go. They compressed his neck and sat on his chest, preventing him from expanding his chest to draw in more air. Asthma and diabetes made it worse, but they did most of the damage.

He definitely did NOT surrender- the reason the cops had to force the cuffs on him was because he resisted arrest. Maybe they should have gotten him medical attention sooner, but from what I read they had EMTs on the scene, too.

Eric Garner did not cooperate with police and eventually died of a heart attack, in an ambulance on the way to hospital. It's tragic that he died, but it was entirely a situation of his own making. And while the hold used might have been against police regulations, there was no state law against it (aka not illegal).
Which is why the grand-jury declined to indict either of the cops involved.

There are options other than shooting to kill. Cops don't have an especially dangerous job- roofers, refuse collectors, farmers, miners all have more dangerous jobs and they aren't given a right to kill. Cops can tolerate a little danger subduing people.

This tells me that (a) you don't know much about cops, and (b) you seem to lack any situational awareness.
Gravity, trash, farm equipment, and heavy rocks aren't sentient and trying to kill people, break laws, or flee from workers.

According to this page there have been 108 deaths of cops this year: http://www.odmp.org/search/year
This page on trash collectors say they average 90 deaths annually: http://waste360.com/mag/waste_garbage_collection_rated
This page says that since the 1990, coal mining deaths in the U.S. have dropped to less than 50 annually: http://www.aei.org/publication/chart-of ... 1900-2013/

And some cops have far more dangerous jobs than others. I've talked to police who have never fired their gun in the field. But they are all willing and able to if it becomes necessary.

Finally, cops are not "allowed to kill people" any more than a citizen is. Cops are allowed to defend themselves, just as we are, with the main difference being that we give them a greater benefit of doubt if they are forced to shoot someone in the line of duty. We also say that cops are allowed to use force that a citizen would not be permitted to use to defend themselves because cops are going beyond that in their JOB as law-enforcement agents.

These were mostly non violent criminals who got killed because the cops saw capturing them or defeating as more important than their lives. I'd prefer if the cops let people flee and didn't shoot them in the back. I'd prefer the cops didn't kill people for the most part.

I, too, would prefer that cops didn't have to kill, but who exactly are we talking about that is non-violent? Eric garner resisted arrest, but the police never tried to do anything more than handcuff him. They didn't taze him or pepper-spray him or beat him with a nightclub or anything.
Michael Brown attacked a cop; definitely not non-violent.

And letting criminals flee is literally not an option- cops don't have a choice (or aren't supposed to pick and choose) when and where they enforce the law. Are there any recent situations in which police shot someone in the back while they where fleeing?

The whole, guns don't kill people immediately applies to other weapons. If the cops avoid shooting and killing people they won't inevitably die. Some of them will, but not all of them. And far less innocents would die.

How many more innocent cops would die if they aren't allowed to fight back? And how many "innocent" people die from cops being overly aggressive right now? If your argument is that not arming cops with guns would provide a net-gain in innocent lives saved, I need some numbers.
It seems like the best thing that people could to to avoid becoming tragic statistics is NOT FIGHT WITH THE POLICE.

Finally, I worry that the more you pacify cops, the bolder criminals or potential criminals will get. How many crimes are NOT committed because someone thinks to themselves "this isn't worth the risk of getting into a violent conflict with the police?" I'm not sure, but I'm really reluctant to significantly shift the dynamic in favor of lawbreakers.