Across the nation, police departments are finally re-training their officers as a means to change the internal culture from within, and the Washington state police departments are no exception. Calls for demilitarizing law enforcement began nationally a few years ago but gained urgency after the many violent protests that have occurred this year in response to police brutality. As a result, a new campaign has emerged to change the recruiting and training of new officers to use force as a last resort, and to start viewing citizens with compassion. For Washington, this is a giant change in attitude from last fall's lawsuit in which 89 Seattle officers filed suit to challenge new regulations restricting the use of force.
Demilitarization was also endorsed this week by President Barack Obama's 21st Century Policing task force. The Justice Department has spent $1.5 million so far on the Blue Courage program, and it has been introduced at the New York City and Baltimore County police departments, as well as academies in Nebraska and Arizona.
Now for example, where recruits were once berated by instructors and indoctrinated with stories about police killed in the line of duty, they are now taught that police can't do their jobs unless citizens see their authority as legitimate — something that is eroded with every questionable use of force, rude interaction or corrupt cop. Additionally, Seattle University researchers began a 5 year study last fall to follow new graduates of the academy to measure the effect on their attitudes and how they do their jobs. It should also be noted that as part of the general cry for reform, police departments are also reacting to the call for re-training for officers to use non-lethal force in reaction to the nation-wide epidemic of family pet shootings.
When is Physical Force Justified against You?
Legally speaking, police use of force is permitted under specific circumstances, such as in self-defense or in defense of another individual or group. There is no explicit prescribed situation where it is allowed or not allowed. There is alsono single, universally agreed-upon definition of use of force, but the general consensus is that officers should only use it to the amount necessary to mitigate an incident, make an arrest, or protect themselves or others from harm. The Supreme Court has held that it is a standard of reasonableness. See Graham v. Connor. For example, it is probably reasonable for police to taze an unarmed suspect so as to subdue them to make an arrest, but it is unreasonable to shoot him six times.
The Supreme Court has also held that police may use lethal force for fleeing individuals only if s/he reasonably believes that the individual poses a significant physical danger to the officer or others in the community. See Tennessee vs. Garner.
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Seattle criminal defense lawyer Steve Karimi has been zealously defending people's constitutional rights for decades. As He represents people in any state criminal court in Washington facing a wide range of misdemeanor, juvenile, and felony criminal threat charges. When you understand the potential consequences of a misdemeanor or felony conviction, you will understand how important it is to work with an experienced attorney who knows the local courts and inner workings of law enforcement. Contact a Seattle traffic violations defense attorney online or call 206-621-8777 to schedule a free initial consultation. 24-hour-a-day call service is available at 206-660-6200.