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  • Use of force question

    Last night I was the backup officer on a traffic stop involving a vehicle suspected in a theft from a grocery store. I approached the passenger side and observed the three male occupants in the backseat were attempting to hide their open cans of budweisers. I opened the back passenger door and asked the male closest to me to hand me his can of beer. Well he proceeds to tell me to f**k off and attempts to drink the beer. I reached for the can and we struggled over the can. So now both of us are drenched in booze. He continues to be verbally noncomplaint and then knocks my flashlight out of my hand. So I grab him by the coat and dragged him out of the car. It was muddy and rainy outside so I had a difficult time handcuffing him. I delivered a knee strike to his right outside thigh and was able to gain voluntary complaince. I thought I controlled the situation correctly but this morning I was called into the Chief's office. He advised me I shouldnt have been so quick to use physical force. So what do you think? Did I escalate the situation or handle it correctly?
    Courage is the discovery that you may not win and trying when you know you can lose.

  • #2
    Well I would say yes, you did a good job!!
    For example for here, thats a bylaw offence (ticket can be issued for it), so it would go like..
    Sir put the beer down, you're being issued a summon for the offence of open consumption of liquor, I need to see your id now

    F you slurps beer. (now actively resisting, its not just a fight to resist, the moment people dont comply with simple commands, they are testing you, watching for your reaction and resisting.

    Get out of the car now, you're refusing to id self, youre being arrested for obstruction of a peace officer

    More drinking, (again resisting, getting up courage to fight, keeps glancing at you, thats him targetting your position and indeed equipment)

    That beer is being knocked straight out of his hand, I dont want a torn metal can in my face or beer thrown in my eyes to blind me as I get punched. He's now resisting by struggling, good man for the knee strike. I would hae no problem punching him as hard as possible in the mouth also, or pepper spraying him. Emphasize that you had to end the fight as fast as possible.

    As for anything else, I dont know what youre experience is or training is for notes, but dont be afraid to write a novel if need be.

    Use this mnemonic:

    A: amount of time you saw the suspect or event

    D: describe the scene or event as best you can

    V: Your view

    O: Obstructions to your view

    K: Key points which made you remember the scene

    A : Any reason it sticks in your mind.

    T: Time of event.

    E: Errors on further recollection.

    So basically i think you did a good job, just always remember the moment you put hands on them, you own them!!
    "Well, I never had an invisible friend when I was young, but I'm sure that if I did, it would be Constable Smiley."

    Comment


    • #3
      Ask, tell, make. Sounds like chief needs a little time in the field to remember what it's like to deal with a non-compliant turd...


      I can criticise, 'cause I are one...
      It's not the will to win that matters...everyone has that. It's the will to prepare to win that matters.
      Paul "Bear" Bryant

      Comment


      • #4
        Hell, you could've been more forceful in my opinion. There's no way in hell I would say you acted with too much force based on what you just said. Just make sure any report you did was well written.

        Comment


        • #5
          Thank you very much for everyones advice and input. I felt that if I didnt establish control right away it couldve got out of control. The other individuals might have been emboldened to fight as well. I had no issues with the remaining occupants after they saw me immediately control the situation. With my report I made sure to include the patrol video of the entire traffic stop, statements from other occupants about the individual, and video from the jail.
          Courage is the discovery that you may not win and trying when you know you can lose.

          Comment


          • #6
            OK, let's assume you had a lawful right to take his property/make him stop drinking, then I think your use of force - based on what you've shared - is appropriate. However, why are you questioning your chief in an open/public forum?

            In WA it would be a civil infraction for him to drink in the vehicle. That would give you the right to ID him and write him an infraction. I don't think under WA state law you'd be able to forcefully stop him from continuing to commit the infraction (imagine a driver with a defective tail light; could you use force to keep him from driving away and continuing to commit the infraction? I don't think so...)

            Comment


            • #7
              hopperja I will address your points in order. Did I have a lawful right to stop him from consuming the alcohol, yes did. Not sure the law in Washington but in South Dakota it is a Class 2 Misdemeanor to consume any alcoholic beverage in a motor vehicle. You ask why I would question my chief in a forum? Because of the small department I work in I don't have alot of senior officers to bounce ideas off of. This is my resource for varying opinions.

              When you speak of being able to forcefully stop him from continuing to commit the infraction are you saying I should stand there and let the fine gentleman finish his beverage? What about his escalation of aggression? Knocking my flashlight out of my hand tells me he isn't going to be cooperative. Should I have let him get out of the car and stood toe to toe with me?

              Thank you for your opinion but I do have to politely disagree.
              Courage is the discovery that you may not win and trying when you know you can lose.

              Comment


              • #8
                Were you wearing your hat?

                If so I think you did fine, you went home he went to jail. Maybe the Chief heard something on the tape he thought was provoking a response. If you even have tapes that is. It is common for the brass to give us a try harder to be nicer lecure even when we did it right. Its part of the game.

                If not then I think you forgot to establish the proper tone for the encounter from the onest and some remedial training is in order. Rember to wear that hat...

                Comment


                • #9
                  midcoguy, in WA, it is not criminal. In WA, I could not forcefully stop him from drinking if he was just the passenger in the vehicle. If he was the driver, then it would be a crime and I could intervene - just like you did. When I responded to your question, I didn't know if it was criminal in South Dakota for a passenger to drink in a vehicle, or if it's civil like in WA. Since he was committing a crime in the back of the car, yes, you had a right to do what you did.

                  To be clear, you have to respond to his escalation. However, in WA I wouldn't have had the right to forcefully make him stop drinking. If I did, his escalation would have been based on an unlawful seizure (reaching for and struggling over the can). Him knocking the flashlight out of your hand happened after the can was seized. In WA if I had done what you did, under WA state law (unlawful seizure -> an escalation by the suspect -> me arresting him), the arrest/charge would be thrown out and I'd open myself up to civil liability. Make sense?

                  Now, for civil infractions (in WA) and other aspects of the job that are civil where we need to identify someone (ie, issuing a trespass admonishment, traffic accidents, etc), they do have a duty to identify themselves. If someone refuses to identify himself when I'm investigating a civil infraction, I have a crime.
                  Last edited by hopperja; 05-20-2011, 10:47 AM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    While in most places an open container may be a ticket, but I would like to think if he failed to cooperate with your demands then you could then proceed into an obstruction and or public intoxication. State law differs on what you can do, and you know your laws better than us. I have no idea why your Chief would be questioning your tactics, personally, like stated, I would think that would be the minimum needed. Keep your head up and realize that MMQing is normal in most departments, unfortunately. Make sure you're squared away on your articulation.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by NORCOCOP View Post
                      Maybe the Chief heard something on the tape he thought was provoking a response. If you even have tapes that is. It is common for the brass to give us a try harder to be nicer lecure even when we did it right. Its part of the game...

                      ^^^^^^^^^Write this down so you will remember it.

                      The administration ALWAYS looks at an incident from a different viewpoint than the officer who was on scene.

                      The boss will look at liability issues, public relation issues, training issues, and might just not like the tone of voice of an officer when reviewing a UOF incident.

                      I have set through many UOF reviews as both a participant and as a reviewee...........I have had the speech given to me and I have given the speech to subordinates.
                      Since some people need to be told by notes in crayon .......Don't PM me with without prior permission. If you can't discuss the situation in the open forum ----it must not be that important

                      My new word for the day is FOCUS, when someone irritates you tell them to FOCUS

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Your chief is a shakebox and a baby kisser.

                        He probably did the bare minimum in the field as a cop and as front line supervisor.

                        Tell him thanks for second guessing me to gain compliance, next time when I dont and I get hurt, save the visit to the hospital.
                        Captain Square Badge, reporting for duty!.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Let me start off by saying, I think your use of force was fine from a legal standpoint. You did fine and don't worry about it. The Chief is too busy seeing the liability side of things instead of the officer safety side of things. It happens and is nothing to get all worked up about.

                          Now let me put on my old dog hat for a minute. Was getting into a fight and risking injuring yourself or the guy worth not letting him finish the beer and then dealing with the violation? You may have still ended up in a fight, but there is the chance that once the beer was finished, he would have stepped out of the car and submitted. Sometimes drunks are more concerned about finishing that last drink than anything else going on around them. Again, I'm not offering this as a criticism of what you did. I'm offering it as food for thought in future situations as you run it through your head.
                          Originally posted by kontemplerande
                          Without Germany, you would not have won World War 2.

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                          • #14
                            from the sound of it you did a good job
                            Last edited by mp1161; 05-23-2011, 06:33 PM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by hopperja View Post
                              OK, let's assume you had a lawful right to take his property/make him stop drinking, then I think your use of force - based on what you've shared - is appropriate. However, why are you questioning your chief in an open/public forum?

                              In WA it would be a civil infraction for him to drink in the vehicle. That would give you the right to ID him and write him an infraction. I don't think under WA state law you'd be able to forcefully stop him from continuing to commit the infraction (imagine a driver with a defective tail light; could you use force to keep him from driving away and continuing to commit the infraction? I don't think so...)
                              Who cares if he's questioning his Chief. Just because he's the Chief doesn't mean he God's gift to policing, and it doesn't mean that he knows everything. There are plenty of Lieutenants and Captains at my agency who haven't been on the streets in years. Laws change. Tactics change. Ways of policing change. Don't be so quick to judge someone who wants some advice and input from fellow Officers. He's posting on a forum so that he can stay anonymous, instead of some turd in his department going to the Chief and saying "Officer xxxxx told me that he disagrees with what you told him." Every department has those guys.

                              As for your second part of the response, just because it's a civil infraction in WA, doesn't mean it's the same in his jurisdiction. As an example, in the Commonwealth of Virginia, an open container is a class 4 Misdemeanor, and is only punishable by a fine. But, if I give you a lawful order to dispose of the beverage, and you don't comply, it now becomes criminal and you're probably going down to Booking for the night.

                              Midcoguy, I think you did the right thing. Good job.

                              And just as oneoldcop said... ASK, TELL, MAKE.
                              Last edited by Street_Cop50; 05-24-2011, 05:00 PM.
                              Look sharp, act sharp, be sharp.

                              Comment

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