Miami Legal Tips Blog

Shifting Police Policy on Excessive Force

police policy on excessive forcePolice shootings are a problem in Miami, just as much as the rest of the country. The Palm Beach Post explores the possibility of shifting policies for police excessive force in a recent article titled “Commentary: Police shootings show need for policy shift, more training.”

Mark A. Schneider and James K. Green of the Palm Beach Post write, “Second, police training in use of force and in risk assessment must be rethought to achieve a better balance between the actual danger in a situation and the level of force used to respond to it. Current training encourages near immediate use of deadly force when a deputy believes a citizen may be reaching for a weapon. Seth Adams was killed when reaching for a cell phone because a deputy believed he may have been lunging into his car for a weapon. Local resident Dontrell Stephens was shot within four seconds of encountering a Palm Beach County Sheriff’s deputy who believed Stephens might be reaching for a weapon in his waistband. Again it was a cellphone. Rather than shooting first and from exposed locations, police can assess situations from protected positions, such as behind cruiser doors, employing ‘cover and conceal’ tactics and, most importantly, working to de-escalate the situation. Such tactics might well have saved Jones and Adams. They would also have saved the life of local resident Mary Lou Forrest, a slight woman with mental disabilities who was cornered by deputies in her own bathroom with a knife.”

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