In past October issues of POLICE we've covered officer safety on various levels, including how lazy tactics can get you hurt, how to secure subjects properly, and how to protect yourself from lawsuits over use of force. Here's a look at the pages of POLICE 10, 20, and 30 years ago.
Being lax on duty can cause injury or even death. In this installment of his In My Sights column, Dave Smith reminds readers that it's important to be on the lookout for bad habits in yourself. This includes turning your back on a subject while using your radio or phone and "standing next to a violator reading the implied consent law within easy striking distance."
You don't want to leave yourself vulnerable to attack. So it should be remembered that when supervisors point out officers' unsafe bad habits it's helpful and potentially lifesaving. Smith notes that subjects can make officers aware of their bad habits by taking advantage of openings to attack them. He jokingly suggests that "Every time someone tries to kick our butts and we have him fully subdued and cuffed and searched we should look deeply into his eyes and say, 'Thanks, I needed that!'"
Don't Make Yourself a Target for Excessive Force Litigation
This article opens with the statement that "many police officers are beginning to fear civil litigation more than a deadly encounter" and goes on to refer to "this litigious climate," which sounds very like the current state of affairs for law enforcement officers. Although I'd say today's climate goes way beyond anything officers could have imagined 20 years ago.
The author warns that using unprofessional language when dealing with a subject could be detrimental to a case even if the use of force was reasonable because it casts the officer in a bad light. So he recommends incorporating into use-of-force training a focus on professional language as well as clear instructions when dealing with subjects so there is no question about an officer's professionalism. He also notes that training should only include use-of-force techniques that are effective and accepted by the judicial system.
A caption in the article does a good job of summing up the thrust of the article: "You want to ensure your own physical safety, but also protect yourself from lawsuits."
Shackling equipment for transporting inmates is made to be secure, but this article reminds officers that "restraint equipment alone does not make security," and they must be knowledgeable, use sound tactics, and maintain situational awareness to keep themselves and others safe.
According to the article, the three components for safe transportation of inmates include the type and design of the restraint equipment used, applying the restraints safely and correctly to discourage tampering, and being alert to the methods used by criminals to defeat restraints so they can be recognized. It's noted that "it is relatively easy for an inmate or arrestee to quickly release himself from restraint equipment," so officers must be ever vigilant.
Melanie Basich is managing editor for POLICE/PoliceMag.com.