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Ben Fields Followup

I have been in a discussion with another person about the whole Ben Fields issue. This other person is totally convinced that the officer used too much force in dealing with the disobedient student.

For the record, I have enjoyed the discussion, it has been civil, respectful and polite. Some others break Godwin's Law in less than three exchanges. This one has been a breath of fresh air. Thank you.

This person recommended I read this page, Police Use of Force. That page also references the Use of Force Continium. I did so, and both of those pages support my side of the argument.

I quote:

There is no single, universally agreed-upon definition of use of force. The International Association of Chiefs of Police has described use of force as the "amount of effort required by police to compel compliance by an unwilling subject"
[...]
Context counts. No two situations are the same, nor are any two officers. In a potentially threatening situation, an officer will quickly tailor a response and apply force, if necessary. Situational awareness is essential, and officers are trained to judge when a crisis requires the use of force to regain control of a situation. In most cases, time becomes the key variable in determining when an officer chooses to use force.

So, the officer is authorized to compel compliance by an unwilling subject. This obstinate young woman is certainly an unwilling subject.

The page then talks about the amount of force used. I quote:

Law enforcement officers should use only the amount of force necessary to mitigate an incident, make an arrest, or protect themselves or others from harm. The levels, or continuum, of force police use include basic verbal and physical restraint, less-lethal force, and lethal force.

The young woman was arrested for disrupting the class by not obeying the orders of the teacher, administrator or SRO.

Looking at the second page, we see the levels of force:

  • Officer Presence — No force is used. Considered the best way to resolve a situation.
    • The mere presence of a law enforcement officer works to deter crime or diffuse a situation.
    • Officers' attitudes are professional and nonthreatening.
  • Verbalization — Force is not-physical.
    • Officers issue calm, nonthreatening commands, such as "Let me see your identification and registration."
    • Officers may increase their volume and shorten commands in an attempt to gain compliance. Short commands might include "Stop," or "Don't move."
  • Empty-Hand Control — Officers use bodily force to gain control of a situation.
    • Soft technique. Officers use grabs, holds and joint locks to restrain an individual.
    • Hard technique. Officers use punches and kicks to restrain an individual.
  • Less-Lethal Methods — Officers use less-lethal technologies to gain control of a situation.
    (See Deciding When and How to Use Less-Lethal Devices. )
    • Blunt impact. Officers may use a baton or projectile to immobilize a combative person.
    • Chemical. Officers may use chemical sprays or projectiles embedded with chemicals to restrain an individual (e.g., pepper spray).
    • Conducted Energy Devices (CEDs). Officers may use CEDs to immobilize an individual. CEDs discharge a high-voltage, low-amperage jolt of electricity at a distance.
  • Lethal Force — Officers use lethal weapons to gain control of a situation. Should only be used if a suspect poses a serious threat to the officer or another individual.
    • Officers use deadly weapons such as firearms to stop an individual's actions.

Let's go down the list.

Did the "Officer Presence" work? No.

Did the "Verbalization" work? No.

Empty Hand Control, Soft technique. Did this work? Yes.

Empty Hand control, Hard Technique. Was this used? No.

Was Less-Lethal Methods used at all? No.

Was Lethal Force used at all? No.

So, by the video evidence at hand, and use-of-force parameters provided by my sparring partner, the officer acted appropriately and correctly in his proportionate response to an unwilling subject.

I win.

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