Law Enforcement

Graham v. Connor: Three decades of guidance and controversy

Police One - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 12:59

By Lance J. LoRusso, Esq.

Cited over 54,000 times and the subject of nearly 1,200 law review articles, [1] one cannot overstate the profound effect of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Graham v. Connor on American law enforcement.

Often equally praised and maligned, the relatively short decision issued on May 15, 1989, held that the use of force by law enforcement officers (LEOs) must be judged by an objective standard of reasonableness under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. However, the rationale of that decision, and the statements made during the discussion, still spur controversy 30 years later.

The excessive force case behind Graham v. Connor

Graham v. Connor is an excessive force case arising from the detention and release of a suspicious person by City of Charlotte officer M.S. Connor.

On November 12, 1984, diabetic Dethorne Graham asked his friend to drive him to a convenience store so he could purchase some orange juice as he believed he was about to have an insulin reaction. Facing a long line upon entering the store, Graham quickly exited, got back into his friend’s car and asked him to drive to a friend’s house.

Graham’s short stay and rapid exit attracted the attention of City of Charlotte (N.C.) police officer M.S. Connor who stopped the car. He detained Graham and the driver until he could establish that nothing untoward occurred at the convenience store.

During the stop, Graham exited his friend’s car, ran around it and passed out. He was handcuffed and placed onto Connor’s hood. At that point, he came to and pleaded with the officers to get him some sugar. Graham’s friend came to the scene with orange juice, but the officers refused to allow Graham access.

The officers put Graham into a patrol car but released him after an officer confirmed the convenience store was secure.

During the encounter, officers reportedly made comments indicating they believed Graham was drunk and cursed at him. Graham reportedly suffered multiple injuries and sued the city and several officers, including Connor, for violating his constitutional rights.

After the federal trial court granted a directed verdict [2] dismissing all defendants, plaintiff Dethorne Graham appealed to the Federal Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld the dismissal. The United States Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case back to the Fourth Circuit for reconsideration of the case under a new standard for interpreting law enforcement use of force that would change the legal landscape.

A standard to analyze police use of force

The Graham court focused on “unreasonable seizures” and decided all LE use of force must be examined under the Fourth Amendment not the Eighth Amendment, as the latter required some inquiry into the subjective beliefs of the LEO.

The Fourth Amendment provides, in relevant part: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.” This was consistent with the Court’s holding three years prior in Tennessee v. Garner, which relied primarily on the Fourth Amendment to review a LEO’s use of force on a fleeing suspect.

The Court set out a simple standard for courts to analyze law enforcement use of force. The desired standard would be objective as the Eighth Amendment “cruel and unusual punishment” prohibition necessitated too much focus on the subjective beliefs and intentions of the involved LEOs, which may or may not have had any effect on the outcome of the encounter: [3]

“As in other Fourth Amendment contexts, however, the ‘reasonableness’ inquiry in an excessive force case is an objective one: the question 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…An officer's evil intentions will not make a Fourth Amendment violation out of an objectively reasonable use of force; nor will an officer's good intentions make an objectively unreasonable use of force constitutional.”

The principle is rather straightforward and generally not controversial. However, the remaining analysis sparked a fire of controversy that continues today.

First, the Court held that the actions of a LEO must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable LEO and not a responsible person. This is significant as most criminal and civil standards incorporate and rely upon a reasonable person or “reasonable man” standard as the law once described it.

Law enforcement critics found the seeds for their discontent in Justice Rehnquist’s rationale for this standard:

“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.”

Justice Rehnquist elaborated on the need to perform an objective analysis of the LEO’s actions that poured accelerant on the flames of controversy. Relying upon Terry v. Ohio, the Court stated:

“Our Fourth Amendment jurisprudence has long recognized that the right to make an arrest or investigatory stop necessarily carries with it the right to use some degree of physical coercion or threat thereof to effect it.”

Recognizing this would necessitate a fact-based inquiry, the Court provided this instruction:

“The ‘reasonableness’ of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight.”

Finally, the Court unequivocally advised all courts reviewing a LEO’s use of force to consider the imperfect and uncontrolled reality of the environment in which LEOs use force:

“The calculus of reasonableness must embody allowance for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second judgments—in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving—about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation.”

The Graham court retained one key rationale from the now overruled Johnson v. Glick case stating:

“With respect to a claim of excessive force, the same standard of reasonableness at the moment applies: ‘Not every push or shove, even if it may later seem unnecessary in the peace of a judge's chambers,’ Johnson v. Glick, 481 F.2d, at 1033, violates the Fourth Amendment.”

Graham has long been criticized as dismissing the rights of the subject of LE action. I believe the “reasonable LEO” standard is a thorn in the side of most LE critics who look at videos and apply an untrained, ill-informed analysis to advocate for sanctions against the LEO. Recent critics of Graham have argued that the Supreme Court’s rationale and guidance from this civil case cannot be applied to a criminal analysis of a LEO’s use of force. For those critics, I have a question: How can a reasonable use of force under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution violate a state criminal statute? I have yet to hear a coherent or rationale answer.

Graham v. Connor considers the interests of three key stakeholders – the law-abiding public who has a right to move about unrestricted, the government that has a right to enforce its laws, and the LEO who has an obligation to enforce the law and the right to do so without suffering injury. LEOs should know and embrace Graham. Time and again, the United States Supreme Court has demonstrated a clear recognition of the dangers inherent in the LEO’s duties, as well as their role in a peaceful society.

Critics may scream louder than our supporters. Recent efforts in California and other states to change the analysis of a LEO’s use of force to apply a hindsight analysis are prime examples. However, the solid bedrock of Graham v. Connor provides a strong foundation for LEOs doing the work few in society are willing to do.


1. A law review article is a scholarly piece typically authored by law professors and law students intended to intensely examine a particularly important decision, area of law, or legal trend.

2. A directed verdict dismisses the case after the Plaintiff’s presentation of evidence.

3. This was essential to the previous test set forth in Johnson v. Glick, 481 F.2d 1028 (2nd Cir. 1973).

About the author Lance LoRusso is a litigator with a law enforcement background. Lance focuses his practice on cases involving LEOs, responds to critical incidents and shootings, and handles catastrophic personal injury and wrongful death cases on behalf of injured LEOs, their families and friends. Lance serves as General Counsel to the Georgia Fraternal Order of Police. He is a trainer at heart and speaks to law enforcement groups around the United States and internationally. He has been a firearms instructor for over 25 years and was a member of the Georgia Governor’s Twenty, the top 20 police marksmen in Georgia, for six years. He is the author of “When Cops Kill: the aftermath of a critical incident,” “Peacemaking” and “Blue News.” All profits from the books benefit law enforcement charities. The books are available on and Amazon. For more information, visit

Categories: Law Enforcement

Initial response to an officer-involved shooting: A checklist for supervisors

Police One - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 12:39

By Mark Kollar

The critical first minutes following an officer-involved shooting are chaotic, commonly characterized by confusion, conflicting information and sensory overload ­– not only for the involved officers, but also for the initial supervisors responding to the scene.

It is during such incidents that the competence and leadership of first-line or mid-level supervisors are put to the test with lives and prosecutions hinging on the quality and speed of the decisions made. Creating order out of chaos, taking command and exerting a calming influence over an emotional, tense and uncertain situation necessitates a level of confidence that can only come from adequate preparation. Though it is hoped you will never have to experience such an event during your career, you must be prepared for this possibility. The appropriate time for planning your response is before an incident occurs, otherwise you do a great disservice to the officers you lead and the community you have sworn to serve.

The development and implementation of comprehensive policies specific to officer-involved shootings is key to successful response to an incident. Deliberate consideration and resultant procedures should be implemented in order to answer questions such as:

Who will you call to handle the criminal and internal investigations? Who will process the scene? Will the officers be mandated to submit to drug and alcohol testing? Will officers be physically and mentally evaluated at a hospital immediately afterwards? Who can be called if additional manpower is needed? Will officers be required to attend a critical incident stress debriefing? Will officers be interviewed immediately, or only after a specified “cooling off” period? Can officers view their body-worn camera or dash cam videos prior to being interviewed? Will the names of the involved officers be released to the media and if so, when?

These and a multitude of other factors should be addressed in your department’s policy. It is your responsibility as a supervisor to know these procedures inside out – you won’t have time to look them up during the immediate scene response. Your actions need to be steered by these processes with minimal deviation. Under the intense pressure, stress and confusion such an incident can cause, your policies, along with the following suggestions, should serve as your guide to navigating those crucial first minutes.

1. Approach cautiously.

As you arrive on the scene of a shooting, do so knowing that potential threats that led to the incident may still exist. Exercise great caution to ensure no additional injuries occur. Your leadership will be of little value to anyone if you become a victim. Be mindful of potential evidence, unsecured weapons and the possibility that additional suspects may be in the area or fleeing away. Consider the possibility for the presence of biological fluids and other hazards at the scene – the safety of all involved is paramount.

2. Take control.

Take a deep, calming breath and begin directing the activity of the scene. Remove unnecessary personnel, mitigate dangers and delegate activities. While the suggestions in this article are presented as a numbered list, many of the activities occur simultaneously, requiring communication, command and control. Though you may initially need the assistance of the involved officers to stabilize the situation, all attempts should be made to relieve them of scene responsibilities as quickly as practical so they can concentrate on their physical and mental well-being.

3. Render medical aid.

The preservation of life takes priority over the collection or preservation of evidence. That being said, be a good witness by making mental notes if, during the urgency of medical treatment, alterations to the scene are necessary to care for the injured. Officers should attempt life-saving efforts within their abilities and available equipment, with appropriate medical first responders being summoned without delay. If practical, clear an entry/egress route into the scene that is relatively free of obvious physical evidence and direct responding medical personnel to follow that path. If time permits without sacrificing the welfare of patients, photograph the positioning of injured persons and evidence prior to moving. Physically check involved officers for injuries; it is possible they are injured but may not realize due to increased levels of adrenaline.

4. Secure the scene and evidence.

Physical barriers, such as crime scene tape, should be established as quickly as possible in order to protect the integrity of the scene and evidence. Always start larger than you believe is needed – it is easier to collapse the size of the scene than to increase it. Designate officers to maintain security and a crime scene log with areas separate from the crime scene being established for a command post, equipment staging area and for the media. Attempts should be made to protect fragile or transient evidence from destruction by conditions such as adverse weather or rescue personnel. Await the arrival of appropriate crime scene processing staff to collect evidence, including any firearms, unless exigent circumstances dictate otherwise. If a weapon poses no hazard, it should be left untouched as it was found. If it becomes necessary to move or unload the firearm due to safety concerns, be mindful of fingerprint/DNA evidence. Do not attempt to reposition the weapon into the scene. Make detailed notes as to its location, positioning and status (e.g., if there was a live cartridge in the chamber or if there was an apparent malfunction/“stovepipe.”).

5. Identify and separate witnesses.

All witnesses to the incident, to include officers, should be identified and separated to avoid contamination of their memories. However, separate does not necessarily mean alone. It is a good practice to assign a companion/peer officer to be with the involved officers to serve as a liaison and resource, but not to actively discuss the incident unless the involved officer insists. The police department, command post, a hospital or their own residence (once positively identified) can serve as locations for staging witnesses while awaiting investigator arrival. Keep good notes as to where persons were sent or taken in order to provide to the arriving investigators. It generally is not practical or advisable to keep witnesses at the primary scene of the event longer than absolutely needed. A canvass of the area is typically necessary to identify all potential witnesses as many are willing to cooperate if asked but will not come forward on their own. Also note the presence of any possible recordings (e.g. surveillance systems, cell phone video, etc.) and make attempts to obtain and preserve them (or notify responding investigators of their existence).

6. Make necessary notifications.

The seriousness of the incident or injury tends to dictate the notifications required to be made. Calls for additional personnel or resources (e.g., investigators, crime scene staff, scene security and traffic/crowd control) are common, as well as notifications to the agency’s command staff and public information officer. In the event of a fatality, contact with the decedent’s next of kin, the coroner/medical examiner and the prosecutor/district attorney may also be warranted. Exercise great caution when briefing the criminal investigators who arrive on scene to avoid sharing any statements (or derivative information) made by the involved officers under potentially compelled circumstances (possible “Garrity” issues).

7. Comply with departmental policies.

A detailed agency protocol may include taking the involved officers to the hospital for medical and psychological evaluation, drug/alcohol testing and photographs of the officer as dressed at the time of incident and of any visible injuries. The collection of the officer’s firearm as evidence may be designated to be completed by a supervisor or crime scene personnel. Policy may also dictate replacing the officer’s weapon with a spare. Additionally, prescribed public safety questions and/or an initial walkthrough of the scene with investigators may be requested or required based upon agency protocol. In short, know your policies and comply with their mandates for a given situation.

8. Consider legal issues.

Though generally the responsibility of the criminal investigators, small agencies may rely upon supervisors to contemplate legal issues surrounding law enforcement’s continued presence and evidence collection at the scene absent a search warrant or other exception to the Fourth Amendment’s search and seizure protections. Just because law enforcement was legally called to the scene and a shooting death resulted does not necessarily give you the right to conduct further searching once any life-threatening exigency has subsided. Consult with your local legal counsel to ensure any evidence collected is done so in a constitutionally appropriate manner.

9. Accurately document the scene.

Timely and accurate documentation of the scene and of your actions relative to the incident are critical for the investigations that are likely to follow (administrative, criminal, civil and training/tactical review). Small details, such as whether the lights were on or off in a situation where an officer mistook an object for a weapon, can become vitally important to the investigation. Use checklists to ensure every pertinent fact has been recorded and keep notes throughout regarding your observations, post-incident alterations to the scene, persons present and statements made. Photographs taken as soon as practical – and then progressively throughout the scene response – can also be useful in quickly documenting large amounts of information.

10. Conduct a debrief/self-assessment.

We all make mistakes and there is always room for improvement. Conduct an honest self-assessment to identify areas where you can refine your leadership or better prepare for future incidents. Look for opportunities to enhance your policies and procedures and to train the staff to better accomplish the goals and objectives of a critical incident scene response. Question your officers about their perceptions of how the event was handled and solicit their constructive criticism on how things can be improved. Once the dust settles, it can also be useful to speak with the involved officers to gain their perspective on the aftermath and ways they could feel better supported during those initial minutes following a traumatic event.

About the author Mark Kollar is a special agent supervisor for the Major Crimes Division, Northeast Special Investigations Unit with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Bureau of Criminal Investigation. He can be reached at

Categories: Law Enforcement

Wrong way driver arrested for DWI after collision on the Thruway.

State - NY Police - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 12:38
State Police report the arrest of Andrew Chapman, 37, of Niagara Falls, NY, for Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated, Reckless Driving, and several vehicle and traffic violations.
Categories: Law Enforcement

Forensic Genealogy: Where Does Cold-Case Breakthrough Technique Go After GEDmatch Announcement?

Forensic Magazine - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 12:26
NewsOver the weekend, GEDmatch automatically set all of its 1-million-plus users to a default “opt-out” status, effectively ending the rush to solve cases in that database — for now. The genealogy community is aswirl with debate. Some favor privacy, and eliminating law enforcement searching altogether. Others are completely for catching as many suspected criminals as possible.Staff Author: Seth AugensteinTopics: DNA
Categories: Law Enforcement

How to find the only knife you’ll ever need in law enforcement

Police One - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 12:04

Sponsored by Benchmade Knife Company

By Sean Curtis for PoliceOne BrandFocus

There’s one piece that police agencies don’t always address in official policy. While you’ll find them on nearly every peace officer from one end to the next, you also won’t find a supply sergeant issuing them out. Can you guess what that piece is?

That’s right. It’s a knife.

Secondary weapons for different departments can range from what’s in vogue or who is certified to carry what, but nearly every officer carries a blade. Next to the badge, uniform and gun, a knife is basically a practical tool that comes in handy for law enforcement officers (I’d say it’s right up there with handcuffs even.) Knives can be worn on the belt, clipped into a pocket, or stashed on a vest, ready to deploy. While keeping all this in mind, here are a few tips to consider before making a choice for your next tour of duty:

Tip 1: Be mission specific and find a knife to go with it

Let’s face it: we’re extremely fortunate to live in a time where there are innumerable blade styles, shapes and materials used to create different knives. But having too many options can also be a challenge, since depending on the mission you’re on, you’d want to pick and choose more carefully.

If you are a tactical operator, you may need something that will allow you to wedge a door, or sever a variety of materials with top-notch cutting ability. This often pushes knives to the extremes of their comfort zones (we all know SWAT breaks stuff). This is where a tactical multi-tool could be a great option. With Benchmade’s 365 Outlast, you can approach nearly any mission with confidence. Tactical officers have a wide range of mounting and carrying options because their uniform is less about command presence and more about utility. Therefore, the sky (or your commander) is the limit.

A patrol officer may want more of a knife that’s the jack of all trades. The roles the average duty officer fills on a daily basis never ceases to amaze me. They may be cutting seatbelts, removing flex-cuffs, or freeing an entangled animal. With proper training and policy support, officers can use their knives as defensive tools for weapons retention or as a backup when they’re disarmed. There are a number of wonderful options in this class and they range from classic folding knives to karambit style fixed blades like the Azeria or even punch-style knives (like those in the CBK Family) that are usually smaller than what SWAT may opt for. Keep in mind that uniformed or patrol officers have many mounting options like duty belts or boots that help them carry quite a few different sizes and weights of blades.

And finally, just because you’ve been promoted to wear a suit and tie doesn’t mean you suddenly lose the need for a cutting tool during your shift. Non-uniform personnel still have need of knives despite focus of their mission. Their clothes might be different, so this can often dictate the needs they have from their knife design. These types of officers still need a good cutting instrument, one that can be used in a wide array of scenarios, but one that doesn’t tear up their pants when they wear it every day. Lightweight utility is the paramount feature combination here, and it can also apply to patrol and tactical units. Find a blade like the 537 Bailout that’s so light, yet still strong enough to offer good cutting power and you are miles ahead.

Tip 2: Think about deployment when choosing your knife

Another critical factor to consider before placing any kind of blade on your uniform is thinking through how you plan on deploying your knife. Can you get to the knife and access it quickly? This may seem like a strange question, but the truth is that law enforcement officials often need knives during the most dire of situations. Whether it’s protecting yourself or cutting something down in a critically short amount of time, the ability to quickly deploy your knife into that situation is essential. Any folder that takes two hands to operate is a potential liability. Thumb stubs, autos, and training on single-handed deployment can make all the difference in the world. Find a blade that you can access and quickly insert to resolve your issue.

Tip 3: Ask yourself: will this knife stay on me?

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is getting a knife that won’t stay on you. Do not select something that will clatter to the ground when you run. Do not pick a blade that tears off your vest when you climb over a chain link fence. And most certainly, do not choose a knife that will introduce itself into a hands-on situation when you have not called for it.

All the above are regrettable and avoidable with some applied wisdom. It’s a frightening thought to think about a case when you reach for your knife and it’s not there. No one wants to pay for a quality blade only to have its retention not serve you in your time of need. Finally, look for options such as secure sheaths, strong (reversible if needed) mounting clips, or MOLLE compatibility.

Lots of options, but few that last

Over the years I have learned that when it comes to buying something that might save your life or another’s, it’s better to look at these purchases as an investment. In other words? Don’t cut corners. There are too many times during your career when a knife could let you down if you decided to go the cheap route. Find a blade that is going to serve your needs during your shift. Once you have decided upon a type, purchase a quality blade made with reliable materials. Make sure you are able to quickly deploy that knife into whatever situation you may call upon it for, and make sure it stays where you placed it until you need it. Once these factors are settled, pick up a quality version of what checks all these boxes for your mission and you’ll never be disappointed. For some, that may mean picking up one of Benchmade’s knives.

Categories: Law Enforcement

Station Design: Guns, Hoses and FF&E - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 12:02
Jason Estes and Raegan Porter offer tips to Station Design Conference attendees on how to keep public safety construction projects from becoming overwhelming.
Categories: Law Enforcement

Washington's New DNA Law Named for 2 Murdered Tacoma Girls

Forensic Magazine - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 11:26
NewsJennifer and Michella's Law, which will expand Washington's DNA database, is named after two girls murdered in Tacoma decades ago.Contributed Author: Drew Mikkelsen, K5 NewsTopics: DNA
Categories: Law Enforcement

Wild LA police pursuit involving stolen RV, dogs leaves 3 injured

Police One - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 11:10

Benjamin Oreskes Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — A woman in a stolen recreational vehicle took off on a wild pursuit Tuesday evening with two dogs in tow, smashing into a palm tree and several cars as parts of the camper came flying off.

Three people, including the driver, were taken to a hospital with minor injuries.

The pursuit began at 7:05 p.m. near Towsley Canyon in Santa Clarita. Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies had been conducting patrol checks there since a man was seen exposing himself to a woman while she was practicing yoga, said sheriff’s Deputy Tracy Koerner.

Koerner said deputies learned the RV had been stolen out of Simi Valley. KABC-TV Channel 7 reported that the pursuit began after the RV failed to yield.

Two dogs were seen with the woman in the RV as she attempted to elude authorities. At times, the dogs were on her lap as she drove. At one point, one of the dogs jumped from the vehicle.

Video of the pursuit showed the RV hitting speeds of up to 60 mph, and as the driver made her way through the San Fernando Valley, the vehicle slammed into a black car coming through an intersection. TV helicopters zoomed in and showed the driver holding a dog by its harness as the animal attempted to jump from the vehicle.

At least six other vehicles were reportedly struck during the pursuit, which included a detour through a parking lot. As the driver made a wide left turn from the lot, the RV smashed into a palm tree. The impact sheared off part of the side of the RV and took out the front windshield.

The vehicle, with debris flying from it, finally stopped after rear-ending a car in Tarzana. The driver then made a run for it and attempted to scale a fence. She was tackled, handcuffed and eventually taken away by ambulance in a gurney.

Two other people hurt in the crash were taken to a hospital with minor injuries, the California Highway Patrol said.

Both dogs, which suffered non-life-threatening injuries, were taken in by animal control, authorities on the scene are reported as saying.

The suspect was identified as Julie Ann Rainbird, 52, of Winnetka. She was booked on suspicion of offenses including "evading a police officer causing injury or death," and was held in lieu of $100,000 bail, the California Highway Patrol reported.

Valley police chase

HAPPENING NOW: Suspect in RV leading police on chase through San Fernando Valley.

Posted by ABC7 on Tuesday, May 21, 2019


©2019 the Los Angeles Times

Categories: Law Enforcement

Trump Awards Medals to Public Safety Officers

Forensic Magazine - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 11:04
NewsFourteen public safety officers were awarded the Medal of Valor by President Donald Trump on Wednesday, including eight who responded to a shooting at a southern California polling place.Contributed Author: Deb Riechmann, Associated PressTopics: Police Procedure
Categories: Law Enforcement

Woman Who Helped Put Away Serial Killer Awaits His Execution

Forensic Magazine - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 11:01
NewsLisa Noland said she was 17 when she wrote a suicide note, planning to end her life after years of being raped by her grandmother’s boyfriend. A day later, she found herself fighting for her life while being raped by a man now set to be executed in Florida after a killing spree that left 10 women dead over an eight-month rampage in 1984.Contributed Author: Brendan Farrington, Associated PressTopics: Death Penalty
Categories: Law Enforcement

Serial Cyberstalker Could Avoid Prison Again Under Plea Deal

Forensic Magazine - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 10:55
NewsOnly hours before women marched through many U.S. cities in January, Christopher Cleary set off a manhunt when he posted a Facebook message threatening to kill "as many girls as I see" in retaliation for years of romantic rejection. Cleary pleaded guilty in April to a reduced charge of attempted threat of terrorism, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. But prosecutors agreed to recommend probation.Contributed Author: Michael Kunzelman, Maryclaire Dale and Colleen Slevin, Associated PressTopics: Digital Forensics
Categories: Law Enforcement

After 15,000 ‘Likes’, Police Hope Suspect Makes Good on Promise - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 10:47
Torrington police hope a wanted suspect makes good on his promise to turn himself in after his online wanted poster topped 15,000 “likes” on Facebook.
Categories: Law Enforcement

Judge: Key Body Camera Videos in Noor Trial Will be Altered - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 10:40
A Hennepin County judge ordered that the public may make copies of exhibits from the trial of ex-Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor, although some body camera videos that captured the aftermath of Justine Ruszczyk Damond’s shooting must be altered.
Categories: Law Enforcement

Fla. deputy fired after filing to run against sheriff in 2020 election

Police One - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 10:38

David Harris Orlando Sentinel

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — A week ago, Deputy Marco Lopez filed to run for Osceola County sheriff in 2020. The next day, after spending several hours responding to a barricaded subject as a member of the SWAT team, Lopez was fired by the man he’s running against.

Sheriff Russ Gibson, who is running for re-election, fired Lopez after he refused to resign, citing federal court rulings that say a sheriff can fire a deputy who files to run against him for lack of loyalty.

“As you can see from the three cases you were given, you don’t have a constitutional right to run against a sitting sheriff who has filed for re-election,” Gibson wrote in Lopez’s termination letter. “During our meeting [Friday] you were given an opportunity to review the case laws and understand that as sheriff I must have the confidence that you will effectively represent me as a deputy sheriff and your actions have made it abundantly clear that I cannot.”

Under Florida law, a law enforcement officer who runs against an incumbent must resign effective upon qualifying for the ballot.

Lopez, who ran unsuccessfully in 2016 to replace retiring three-term Sheriff Bob Hansell, acknowledged he would eventually have to resign from his position to run, but argues he doesn’t have to do it until qualification, which is determined in May 2020.

He said he thinks his firing was retribution.

“I believe this is just Russ’ way of saying he’s afraid that he may lose,” Lopez said.

But Orlando attorney Nick Shannin, who specializes in election law, said Gibson is just following the law.

“You can’t have an active member of the sheriff’s office running against the current sheriff without distraction and losing focus on the job," he said.

When asked for comment, a spokesman for the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office forwarded the three cases Gibson used as his justification in Lopez’s termination letter.

One of them was a case last year out of Franklin County in the Panhandle: Deputy Carlton Whaley sued his boss after he was fired, claiming his First Amendment rights were violated.

In that case, Whaley was fired after he told a secretary he was going to run against Sheriff A.J. Smith in 2020. But the case was thrown out in December.

“Precedents ... have established that the concern of disloyalty – and thus, the effective and efficient delivery of public services – strike at the heart of political patronage dismissal cases that involve a sheriff firing his or her deputy sheriff on loyalty grounds,” Chief Judge Mark E. Walker wrote. “The disloyalty concerns arose at the moment when, if not earlier, [Whaley] acknowledged his intention to run for sheriff.”

Lopez said there would be no conflict of interest if he continued to work.

“Our main concern is the safety of the community," he said.

There is one case out of Lake County in the mid-1990s that may support Lopez’s position. Then-Sheriff George Knupp fired a corrections officer who had filed to run against him, saying the officer was spreading “vicious rumors” about him.

A federal jury decided awarded Donald “Cowboy” Thompson, $408,000, the Orlando Sentinel reported at the time.

Lopez is running as a Democrat against Gibson and Mike Fisher, who retired from the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office four years ago. Lopez, who unsuccessfully sued Gibson in 2017 after he was demoted, said he is considering his next steps.

“I’m just going to patiently wait and see how this plays out,” he said. “Hopefully something will come out in our favor.”


©2019 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.)

Categories: Law Enforcement

Man Charged With DWI After Crashing Into Missouri Police Station - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 10:36
A man has been charged with property damage and driving while intoxicated after he allegedly crashed into the front of the Lee’s Summit Police Department building Monday.
Categories: Law Enforcement

How cops can help citizens better understand police use of force

Police One - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 10:34

Author: Lt. Dan Marcou

Picture the following hypothetical scenario. A chief at a press conference states, “Ladies and gentlemen I have gathered you here today because police use of force cases are routinely mishandled by journalists and community leaders. It is my belief that journalists and community leaders may do a better job in this area if they have at least a basic understanding of what a justified use of force looks like.”

There are three things the public needs to know about contacts with police:

Be courteous; Be cooperative; Be compliant. Criminality, Not Color

It is important for you to convey to the public that police officers pursue criminality, not color. Officers must have a reason to make contact with an individual. They must be able to explain later in court that they had either a reasonable suspicion or probable cause to believe the individual had committed or was about to commit an offense.

The fact is that more than 95% of police contacts are handled without rising above the level of dialog. This is because most people are cooperative and compliant. This is the way it should be, because it is unlawful to resist and or obstruct an officer while in the performance of his or her duty.

If a person disagrees with a stop or an arrest, the place to argue the case vigorously is in a court of law, not on the street.

Force Options

When an officer meets resistance, officers are trained to use a level of force justified by the specific threat, or resistance they are presented with. For example, if a person pulls away from an officer making an arrest and snaps, “Don’t you touch me,” the officer can choose to apply a compliance hold to that person. These holds are designed to convince the person to comply.

When a suspect is actively resisting, the officer can also choose to disengage and deploy a TASER or utilize pepper spray to overcome that resistance.

It might surprise some people to discover that when a suspect strikes an officer, or even acts as if he or she is about to strike an officer, that officer can legally deliver impacts with what we call personal body weapons. Officers can punch, kick, or strike with elbows and/or knees to defend themselves and/or make an arrest.

Officers can also choose to deliver baton impacts to targeted areas on the body. Officers can even strike a suspect more than once if once does not stop the suspect’s threat. If a suspect tries to hit an officer, don’t be surprised when that officer hits back.

Use of Deadly Force

I’ve never heard an officer say at the beginning of a shift, “I hope I get to shoot someone today.”

While the vast majority of officers never fire their weapons in the line of duty, some have to. When an officer is faced with the threat of death or great bodily injury – or someone they are sworn to protect is faced with that same imminent threat – an officer is justified in using deadly force.

There are three generally held misconceptions about deadly force that continually arise and need to be addressed:

1. An officer can shoot an unarmed man under certain conditions.

An officer may have to use deadly force on an unarmed man who is larger, stronger and/or attempting to disarm the officer, for example. In the case of a suspect, who is battering an officer to the point that he or she may suffer death or great bodily harm, the use of deadly force is defensible. Police officers do not have to sustain a severe beating in the line of duty.

Other factors that could justify an officer’s choice to utilize deadly force are the extent of that officer’s injury, exhaustion, or the number of assaultive adversaries the officer is confronted with.

2. An officer can, in certain conditions, shoot someone in the back.

You see if a suspect is fleeing and their escape presents an imminent threat of death or great bodily harm to the community at large, the use of deadly force can be justified. On some occasions a round might enter through the back, because of the dynamics of the circumstance.

3. Officers are not – and never will be – trained to shoot to wound or shoot weapons out of subjects’ hands.

These are not realistic options. Handguns are not accurate enough to deliberately attempt such things when lives are on the line.

The Bottom Line

If every person contacted by officers were to remain courteous, cooperative and compliant, there would never be a need to employ force. The reality is, however, that although most people will cooperate, some people will resist arrest.

It is not easy for a lone police officer to get a resistive suspect into handcuffs. If it looks rough, that’s because it is rough.

Police work is a contact sport, but for cops there is no second place. If someone in the public sees a cop struggling with a suspect and decides not to give him/her a hand, they should at least give them the benefit of the doubt.

Cops are not asking for citizens to get into the arena with them – they would just like the audience to stop cheering for the other team.

The only way to get these three extremely simple ideas out to our communities is for you to take this information and share it, with both your fellow officers and with your community members.

This article, originally published 09/03/2014, has been updated.

Categories: Law Enforcement

Educate your community: 3 use of force core values for police

Police One - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 10:31

Author: Booker Hodges

I have had many recent conversations with friends and other well-meaning citizens regarding the use of force by police officers. These discussions made me realize how law enforcement has failed to explain to the public how and why we use whatever force we use in a given incident. There is no consistency or standards in law enforcement regarding use-of-force techniques. Every agency is different. Every situation is unique. Just take a look at the comments section of any use-of-force video posted on PoliceOne to see the differing of opinions regarding what type of force is used in a particular situation.

Realizing that we will never all agree on what type of force should be used, I created a list of three values I refer to as the gospel of use of force. If police departments develop a practice of communicating and educating citizens and the community about these three core values, I believe we will see an enhancement of neighbor relationships, help change some perceptions of the law enforcement profession and improve overall public trust.

1. Priorities of life

Hostages, innocents, officers and suspects are the order I was taught and still firmly believe we should follow as a profession. Sharing this with citizens and our communities may help them better understand why officers use a particular force tactic when dealing with suspects.

In terms of the priorities of life, the safety of officers is above that of a suspect who is attempting to harm people regardless if they are unarmed or mentally ill. Does this mean that we shouldn’t try to de-escalate situations involving unarmed or the mentally ill? Absolutely not. We have a duty to de-escalate these situations, but we should not put their safety before ours.

It is incumbent on us to communicate this to citizens to help them understand why we don’t charge into a room where a person who may be experiencing a mental health crisis is alone and armed with a weapon or why we run towards gunfire when others are running away.

2. We are human

Lt. John McClain did an excellent job of dodging bullets, shooting down a helicopter with his last bullet and defeating heavily armed suspects with his bare hands and a handgun in the “Die Hard” movies. Unfortunately, none of us are John McClain.

Given that police officers are human, we are susceptible to all the same human things as everyone else. We get angry. We feel pain. We get sick. We have family issues. We make mistakes.

The law enforcement profession does not do a good enough job of admitting when we make mistakes. The consequences of not admitting our faults have contributed to the perception that we are all corrupt and cover for each other all the time.

Obviously, this perception couldn’t be further from the truth. Unfortunately, this perception is reinforced when the general public reads in the media that their municipality is paying out thousands of dollars for an alleged act of police misconduct, but admits no wrongdoing.

To the average citizen this looks like we did something wrong, but are unwilling to acknowledge our mistake. We need to do a better job of projecting the human side of our profession to the public.

3. The optics of using force are not pretty

No matter what new grappling, L.O.C.K.U.P. or other defensive tactic arises, it’s never going to look pretty when using it in the field.

Since force is never going to look pretty, techniques should be used to end physical confrontations as safely and quickly as possible. You can go on YouTube and see countless videos of police officers attempting to arrest uncooperative suspects using optic friendly techniques that only serve in prolonging the confrontation and increasing the likelihood of injury to both the officer and the suspect.

Law enforcement, as a profession, could do a better job of communicating to the public that using force is always our least desirable option, but when we do use force, it’s not going to look pretty regardless of our intentions.

As a profession, we may not agree on what use-of-force technique should be used in a given incident, but we can come together as a profession and shed light on these issues to better inform the community we’re serving. If we communicate and educate our communities about the three core values listed above, maybe we can make some head way at changing the current false perception that all we want to do is harm innocent people.

To get started, police departments could use their social media sites to publish videos of their use-of-force instances after the legal process has concluded. Publishing these videos, along with a detailed explanation, could help educate the public about the gospel of the use of force.

In addition to publishing the videos, agencies could continue to facilitate citizen and youth academies.

The more we explain to people why we do what we do, the better chance we have of turning around this false narrative surrounding our profession.

This article, originally published on 11/07/2016, has been updated.

Categories: Law Enforcement

Massachusetts Police Officer Helps Deliver Baby at Woman's Home - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 10:25
Arlington Police Officer Brandon Kindle probably didn't expect to be playing the role of doctor during his early-morning patrol on Wednesday, May 1, but through proper training and a calm demeanor, Kindle was able to safely assist in the delivery.
Categories: Law Enforcement

Florida Sheriff Fires Deputy After He Files to Run Against Him - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 10:19
A week ago, Deputy Marco Lopez filed to run for Osceola County sheriff in 2020. The next day, after spending several hours responding to a barricaded subject as a member of the SWAT team, Lopez was fired by the man he’s running against.
Categories: Law Enforcement

Dallas Police: Killing Similar to 2 Other Attacks on Trans Women - Thu, 05/23/2019 - 10:14
Dallas police said Tuesday that the fatal shooting of Muhlaysia Booker bears similarities to two other attacks on transgender women in the last year.
Categories: Law Enforcement


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