Wednesday, 28 March 2012

The application of justifiable force

During my previous life as a police officer,  I was one of a very small group of people that have the right to lay hands on a fellow citizen, under circumstances that are governed by the law. This action is in effect an assault, the application of force to the person of another without their consent. It is only particular circumstances that make this act lawful.

 As a police officer I always felt, and still believe, that if you ever got used to this and took it for granted, you had lost something. On a slightly different tack, colleagues would often say that they were never bothered by death and that they were `used` to dealing with death and its detritis. I never was. It was familiar to me, death in all its forms, be that violent or peaceful, from babies to the very old, but I never got used to it in over 30 years of service. I got used to dealing with it, but I never became indifferent to it.

The application of force is a normal part of the job. It can be exhausting. I always felt that most people never realised that. These people found out.


CI-Roller Dude said...

Being able to legally take a citizen's freedom away is a great duty and should never be taken lightly. No other job has that authroity.
What many also don't know is we are not supposed to retreat...we had a duty to continue until the bad guy was in jail.

Hogdayafternoon said...

CI-RD: Yup. When I joined the Met Police in 1971 it was drummed into us that to lose a prisoner was a disciplinary offence that would result in the loss of 2 days pay. With a wage of £20 a week, we hung on to our prisoners.

Now if we'd got awarded 2 days pay for every prisoner we brought in..........

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

Here in WI, we have an entire Force Option Continuum to use as a guide for the appropriate use of force.

Most people don't realise the huge level of power and responsibilty of a police officer. I can, if needed, take you freedom away from you, and institute proceedings to ensure that you don't get it back. I can use force to make you comply with my commands, and there are even conditions where I can, if neccessary, take your life away from you. It is not a job to take lightly, nor is it like Law & Order ( BOOM BOOM ). It can be much more confused than TV will ever show. Barney Miller got the bizzare parts down pretty well though.

While one wearies of the weekend bar violence, and having to fight with some twit full of beer courage, it's the taffic accidents that get to me, when someone is hurt or mangled thanks to the foolish, and often alcohol muddled actions of another. Especially, the kids that are hurt, who had no say in what happened to them.

There can be a certain callousness that can appear, whoever, such as when a repeat DUI biker rode his cycle into a brand new barbed wire fence. Which vegimaticed him. When I found him, he was so obviously gone, that it had less impact on me than one would have thought. It doesn't sound nice, but it is true.

TonyF said...

I remember as a member of 'Betty Windsor's Flying Circus' we were also able to arrest persons in certain circumstances (up to and including lethal force). We were advised that shooting someone was less messy (figuratively) than arresting them. However, we would then be 'done' for murder, so no win there then. It was always wisest to hold onto the, er, suspect, by any devious means and shout for the; Mil Pol, Guard Commander or any other responsible adult.

Anonymous said...


As there is no comments section for Tuesday's post, I am using this space to pass this message.

Before the service on Tuesday (27th), I shared the story that you asked me to with several people. At the reception, later, I told SNO and Mary your story and Mary said that she had asked her son to come to your site so that they both could read it themselves.

Happy I was to perform this small service to you.

Cheers, Paul L. Quandt

Hogdayafternoon said...

In my few weeks in The Great Lakes area way back, I spent several days with a few PD's. I found we shared the same sense of humour (a bit dark and dangerous) and very similar attitudes. Despite the obvious differences (availability of firearms to the public) I felt no less safe than on a typical rowdy Friday night in my own town, in fact I liked the fact that your guys were not expected to mix it in quite the up-close-and-personal way that we were.

Litigation is way too dodgy these days.

Paul L:
I cannot find the words to say how much your short message has impacted on me. Thank you, thank you. You are without a doubt one of the good guys.

Quartermaster said...

Decent men never get used to such things. We have some trouble here with some Police Forces losing contact with the rest of the civilian world and have earned some pretty bad reps as a result. It's led to a general distrust of many Policemen. I don't much trust the cops around where I live - they are some of the worst scoff laws we have, outside of Judges and Prosecutors.

Hogdayafternoon said...

That's a sad report. My experiences in 1980 of Flint PD was of a pretty good outfit.
Of course the US is huge with such a plethora of law enforcement. Hard to get a head around from a UK perspective.

Quartermaster said...

While there are some PDs that are decent, they tend to be small town rural PDs. The big cities, like New York, Los Angeles, or even some smaller cities, like Las Vegas, have acquired bad reputations. Things have been changing rapidly over the last 20 years, with the trend being down. PDs are becoming more and more militarized, using military weapons and equipment. It's bad news for the long run. Both for the civilian world as a whole as well as the Police. When the Police are recognized as am occupier, then things will be very bad for the Police, and things are headed in that direction in some areas of the country.

JuliaM said...

"The plane's co-pilot, concerned by the "erratic" behavior, locked the door behind the captain when he left the cockpit during the flight..."

And if that fortuitous event hadn't happened?

It doesn't bear thinking about, does it? The cramped confines of a cockpit is no place to have a struggle!

Hogdayafternoon said...

JuliaM: The cockpit of a 747 is surprisingly small.

Anonymous said...

Slightly off-topic, but I understand that a huge wedge of Lincolnshire Police staff have transferred to G4S who will be carrying out many of the support tasks. They are also trialling a 'street to suite' initiative where an arrest is made by a Police officer but then G4S staff take the person to the custody suite. There may well be a question mark of '(un)justifiable force' in this, especially in the question of restraint (handcuffs, etc). I will await this outcome with interest.
Like you, ex-Job, though unlike you, medically retired after 17 years when I was assulted making an arrest leaving me with spine damage. Don't have a lot of mobility so spend time looking through various blogs. Happened upon yours through the Gadget site.
Very interesting.

Hogdayafternoon said...

Plodnomore: Greetings. I've read your comments before, over at Chez Gadget. I have an old back injury too, but thankfully it didn't cost me my job although I wonder at times why not! All uner control by Pilates and the occasional chiropractor magic.
As for G4S, I had to turn down the offer of a job with the Olympics security team. Dates were no good for my diary, but even if they were It was, for me, too little, too late and too much stress and responsibility.