We’re all acutely aware how our reaction to a situation as law enforcement officers may sometimes have significant negative costs associated with them, sometimes in the form of criminal or civil punishment. How many times have we all seen a scenario where an officer used an excessive amount of force and was later sued civilly or sentenced to prison? Unfortunately, pretty frequently. But for every time an officer is reprimanded/fired for using force excessively, how many times did he/she use force excessively prior to this? Is it a sudden break in a person’s psyche that caused them to slip, or was their decent into the darkness of malfeasance a slow, yet loud path? More importantly, how are we as law enforcement professionals reacting to and dealing with the situation at hand?
At the ASU Police Department, no one at the command level seems to be asking the aforementioned questions (quite frankly, the only questions being asked on the 3rd floor are, “How do we make this blog go away!?”). We’re pretty impressed there seems to be accountability within the officer ranks, but what happens when your command fails you?
One Cpl. is a prime example of an excessive use of force handled poorly at the upper level. Recently, a Cpl. deployed his taser several times on a subject who was restrained and was not an active aggressor. The situation was documented properly, all the ducks were in a row…and then nothing happened (it’s important to note that we are criticizing ASUPD’s response to the situation, not the action itself). At the MINIMUM, why would a department not place the person in question on administrative leave merely to assess the merit of the situation, and to allow that person to mentally recover? No PD that wishes to minimize its legal liability would even dream of letting this person back on the road anytime soon. However, in the parallel universe that is ASUPD, no IA was conducted, and no higher entity reviewed the use of force in this situation.
There are several more use of force incidents that have occurred within the past six months–a rookie officer tasing a subject running away from him, for starters–we know have NOT been investigated by the upper tiers of the department, and definitely not by anyone OUTSIDE the department. There is NO civilian/sworn use of force review panel, NO IAs, and NO information being sent to AZ POST.
Congratulations in hitting a new low, ASUPD; there is no longer even a thin blue line separating line level officers (good guys) from common criminals (bad guys), because command staff has dissolved that line with their inactions and mismanagement.
Welcome to the final frontier of policing, folks.