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100 Seattle officers file suit to block new use-of-force policies

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  • 100 Seattle officers file suit to block new use-of-force policies

    SEATTLE — In an open revolt, more than 100 Seattle police officers suing to block new use-of-force polices assert that high-level city, police and union officials privately agree with their contention that the court-ordered changes put them and the public in danger.

    But the officers who filed the suit aren't naming those high-level officials, saying only that the officials told them they won't seek to alter the policies because of the "politics" of the situation and the "perceived inability" to fight federally mandated reforms, the officers allege in newly filed court papers.

    "This means that the City is now knowingly and willingly playing politics with Plaintiffs' lives and the lives of the law-abiding citizens of Seattle," the officers wrote in a 34-page amended complaint filed late Wednesday with U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman.
    Source

    Use of Force policy


    This looks like it's going to be fugly-ugly.
    There once was a man who said: "Though,
    it seems that I know that I know,
    what I'd like to see is the I that knows me,
    when I know that I know that I know."

    - Alan Watts

  • #2
    Does anyone know what the specific changes are to their UOF policy? I read through the entire article expecting them to explain what they were complaining about and never found any specifics. I then just read through the UOF policy that was linked here and it does not appear to require "perfection" as the news story says the officers claim. In fact it reads pretty much like our UOF policy does that you must use the amount of force necessary to effect the arrest and it will be judged by the information that you had at the time with a bit more fancy wording included. The appendix explaining methods for de-escalating a situation all seem to be fairly common tactics and procedures that I have used many times in my career. I wonder if it's not so much the actual wording of policy that they are complaining about, but more of the attitude and enforcement of their department that has them spooked.

    Comment


    • #3
      That is the worst UOF policy I have ever read. The only thing a UOF should contain is the Gramm V. Conner test of reasonableness.

      Their subsection 2 (When Time, Circumstances, and Safety Permit, Officers Will Take Steps to Gain Compliance and De-Escalate Conflict Without Using Physical Force) is a defense attorneys dream. With all the wording inside of that section, any lawyer could argue their was time. This takes away from Gramm V. Conner and puts the use of force in the hands of Monday morning quarterbackers, the very thing G V. Conner tried to prevent.

      (c) The Fourth Amendment "reasonableness" inquiry is whether the officers' actions are "objectively reasonable" in light of the facts and circumstances confronting them, without regard to their underlying intent or motivation. The "reasonableness" of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, and its calculus must embody an allowance for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second decisions about the amount of force necessary in a particular situation. Pp. 490 U. S. 396-397.


      Seattle's subsection 7 is terrible, putting to much of a burden on Officers. This should never be in a use of force, but put into an administrative document for supervisors only.

      7. A Strong Partnership Between the Department and the Community Is Essential for Effective Law Enforcement and Public Safety

      Uses of force, even if lawful and proper, can have a damaging effect on the public’s perception of the Department and the Department’s relationship with the community.

      Both the Department and individual officers need to be aware of the negative effects of use-of-force incidents and be empowered to take appropriate action to mitigate these effects, such as:

      • Explaining actions to subjects or members of the public

      • Offering reasonable aid to those affected by a use-of-force

      • Treating subjects, witnesses, and bystanders with professionalism and courtesy

      • Department follow-up with neighbors or family to explain police actions and hear concerns and feedback

      ___

      Sorry, administrators, but my spouse, kids, and family don't care about how the Police Department looks to the public when I don't come home in one piece or at all. My experience with telling family members or the by-standing public on WHY force was used is that it NEVER works. It increases tension between people who already and will always hate you. Your reports and court testimony are enough and the proper way to explain your UOF decisions. Administrators who hold press conferences or show support to family members simply make it look like they are trying to explain away something that should not have happened. Its politically weak kneed.

      The court system should be the only place we need to defend ourselves. I fully support those Officers who want this policy changed.

      Comment


      • #4
        There are a lot of similarities between that UoF policy and mine with the emphasis on de-escalation and minimum force.

        It still seems to allow use of force when appropriate but it puts more of an emphasis on avoiding force where possible.

        Comment


        • #5
          Our policy is worse. It actually specifies using the MINIMUN amount of necesssary force. Instead of reasonablity as the standard. I view it as them taking on unneccessary liability exposure even when we are well withing the legal standard. But, to be honest it is about articulation and being a professional. I could care less about explaining why I did what I did. Where it is a jury, supervisor, friend, or neighbor. I do what is reasonable and I am not ashamed to win and do my job with integrity.

          I am a public servant and I will do anything I can to build a decent relationship with the public. I know it is not fair but I live in reality and life is not fair. The more we explain to people the more they understand. They may not agree or like it but at least they have the information available to process. I have avoid numerous complaints and issues over the years by explaining why I did what I did after I have someone in custody.

          I am not saying they thank me for it, they often argue and denigrate me and my reasoning. However they don't come in the complain and I freely tell them I am recording what I am saying and will happily admit to exactly what occured as soon and as often as possible.

          I don't ask for respect or agreement from those I deal with. I demand compliance with a lawfully given order and I will back it up. I give as much respect and decency a person will allow me to safely give them. I try to return to civility as soon as I can after winning an encounter as well. I believe being a good winner goes a long way toward avoiding future negative encounters.

          I've never been accused of being touchy feely either, most guys I work with can't figure out how I keep from getting complaints.

          Comment


          • #6
            What has always confused me is that the brass responsible for these policies think that, by painting their own people into a corner, they will somehow win over the press or the public.

            Newsflash, administrators; the vocal minority that hates cops.. is always going to hate cops. It doesn't matter how many of your own people you throw under the bus, you will never win them over. Same for the press. They don't even care, they just make more money by making cops look like villains.. so that's what they're going to do.

            Since that's the case, why not back your people up?

            Comment


            • #7
              Two things I noticed.... first is that by their policy if someone is handcuffed but doesn't want to go into a car, you SHALL not use force to put them into a car as it's not to immediately prevent injury, escape, or destruction of property 8.100-2. The second is that you cannot use force to stop someone from swallowing something, such as a bag full of dope or other contraband. That's in the same section. Both of those are problems in my eyes. Their K9 policy only allows a bite deployment if the suspect has a weapon or is suspected of having a weapon; from the K9's in my department, they'd much rather not send their dog after someone who has a weapon... so what's the point? Can only use neck/carotid restraints when deadly force is authorized. Can't shoot at a moving vehicle if you have the opportunity to move out of the way, even if they're trying to run you over... There's so many shall nots and what if's in this UOF policy that it's pretty outrageous.

              Comment


              • #8
                ******edit*****
                Last edited by Ignite; 09-01-2014, 02:35 PM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Cannady View Post
                  first is that by their policy if someone is handcuffed but doesn't want to go into a car, you SHALL not use force to put them into a car as it's not to immediately prevent injury, escape, or destruction of property 8.100-2.
                  wth, then what do you do?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    call them a cab,saw a stupid TV show that they ride around in a cab, well saw a few seconds of it atleast

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by MIDWAY View Post
                      That is the worst UOF policy I have ever read. The only thing a UOF should contain is the Gramm V. Conner test of reasonableness.

                      ___

                      Sorry, administrators, but my spouse, kids, and family don't care about how the Police Department looks to the public when I don't come home in one piece or at all. My experience with telling family members or the by-standing public on WHY force was used is that it NEVER works. It increases tension between people who already and will always hate you. Your reports and court testimony are enough and the proper way to explain your UOF decisions. Administrators who hold press conferences or show support to family members simply make it look like they are trying to explain away something that should not have happened. Its politically weak kneed.

                      The court system should be the only place we need to defend ourselves. I fully support those Officers who want this policy changed.
                      I would disagree with your assessment. I have found that in a lot of instances when on scene things are crazy remaining calm and professional can defuse some of the situation. Do we still have people move back and such. It's just using a strong command voice and asking people to move back instead of 'back the f**k up you stupid c**k sucker' can have a much better affect on a swelling crowd.

                      Speaking to the wild and crazy people can accomplish two things. One, the people may actually de-escalate. A lot of times, people simply want to communicate something and they go about it all the wrong way. Understanding what their complainant is and explaining situation can calm things down. Also, when you have to use force on individual(s), I can't count the number of times I over heard people saying, "Dude had to go. He was out of control and the police gave him a choice and he chose to get locked up."

                      Also, it is not weakness to explain to a family member, who can speak rationally with you, that their family member who just got locked up is going to be ok. If needed that he/she will be treated at a hospital if they received injuries. What they are being charged with and what is the court process and where their family member will be.

                      The community isn't going to come out and give us a hug but you would be surprised the level of respect that you can receive. Just as well get to know the community, the community is taking mental notes on us.

                      Now don't forget for a moment that there aren't times that we go up and down the force continuum and this doesn't mean that our safety isn't paramount. It is. But it is not being weak kneed, the remain professional. To take a moment and see what is creating the situation and after employing force to explain the situation and process to arrested family members.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        JonathanE, I agree with everything you say completely> However, I still believe that none of what you mentioned should be included in a UOF policy. A UOF needs to be pretty cut and dry. UOF policies are the first thing looked by defense and civil attorneys. Seattle's policy gives them to much to hammer an Officer over when it comes to a split second decision.

                        All of that conflict resolution, touchy feely, think about the public crap has its place. But when it comes to the use of force, it needs to be swift, reasonable, and legal. Nothing more or less should be added.
                        Last edited by MIDWAY; 09-01-2014, 11:12 PM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Ignite View Post
                          wth, then what do you do?
                          Call supervisor, sit on arrestee. He's busy and calls are stacking up? Guess it's a barricade!

                          Sorry ma'am, we would have been here earlier but we needed a hard stripe to talk a detainee into the back of our car. It only took 4 hours, though, so we're improving.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Ignite View Post
                            wth, then what do you do?
                            Since it would be against policy, politically incorrect, and just not the nice thing to do, I guess you just have to take the cuffs off and let the alleged perp go...
                            My comments are my personal opinion and are based on my life experiences and training. They are not to be construed as legal advice in any form as I am not an attorney. Should you act on any of the information I provide in my comments, you do so at your own risk!!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Well I'm glad we're still allowed to push/yank them here. I don't want to sit on, what is a stupid call to begin with, all freakin night.
                              Last edited by Ignite; 09-02-2014, 02:43 AM.

                              Comment

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