Since I began writing this column a few months ago I have received an inordinate number of comments on the topic of force.
The discussion on the use of force by police, or as it is called in cop circles, “Response to Resistance”, should be an ongoing dialogue. Police agencies and the public should be able to openly discuss the issue from a common level of understanding. However, since most of the comments could be summed up by asking, “Why do police officers always need to use so much force?” it could be assumed that law enforcement should be trying harder to find common ground on this topic.
The picture at left depicts a San Francisco police officer moments after being assaulted during a riot. While this may be a shocking picture to some, it is included here as an example of why police approach every contact with their guard up.
Statistics on assaults against officers have long suggested that there is a much greater risk of injury in failing to meet and overcome the threat from an unknown subject(s). This is especially true with explosive incidents, such as suicidal subjects, domestic disputes and large protests because these can switch from peaceful to violent in the blink of an eye.
As I was told more than twenty years ago, there is no such thing as a routine call.
In practice this means that if a subject commits an arrestable offense then the outcome is a foregone conclusion. It only awaits the decision by the arrestee whether or not to comply. If a subject follows verbal commands then the expected outcome is a simple and nonviolent arrest. Resistance is the game-changer.