by Ian D Scofield
A recent use of force incident has led to four officers being placed on administrative leave, pending an investigation. If you haven't already seen the video, you can view it here. The video is 20 minutes long but the majority of the "action" happens within the first 10 minutes.
Let's get into the background of the incident. In Mesa, Arizona this May (2018) four officers responded to a call from a woman that her ex-boyfriend tried to break into her apartment. When officers responded they found him and his friend.
At first the subject appears to not care that the cops are there. He keeps talking on his phone as the cops speak with his friend. Then, when the officers begin to search him, nothing changes. At this point, he isn't cooperating but at the same time he isn't resisting.
Officers then instruct the subject, Robert Johnson, to sit on the ground. When he refuses the officers start to swarm in with the first one delivering a knee to Johnson. Another officer strikes Johnson in the face multiple times. Johnson passively resists during the process but he doesn't outright take a swing at officers.
That is where the questionable interaction ends. He is handcuffed and removed from the view of the security camera.
The Mesa Police Department's Chief, Ramon Batista, ordered the release of the surveillance video himself and admits that his officers acted poorly. No one told the chief of this incident for a week until it was reported by a civilian, at which point a full investigation was launched into the use of force.
What is captured on this video should, at the very least, frustrate you. As far as the video shows and based of the police chief's statement these officers acted in a very unprofessional way that will reflect on law enforcement around the United States.
It brings up the good point of the fact that you are being recorded at almost all times. Even if you can't see a camera. Conducting yourself with professionalism is already something that you should be doing, but with how many security cameras are out there, you need to be doing so.
The police chief not only started looking into the incident but has also looked into policy regarding use of force. Red zone strikes, such as the face, were not particularly regulated under department policy. While what they did looks bad on the department and they should have known better, from what multiple articles said, it was not against the rules.
After this incident, the department's policy regarding red zone strikes has changed. Strikes to the face are only permitted when an individual is violently resisting.
Creating policy responsively is not a good way to work. A policy regarding red zone strikes on passively resisting subjects should have already existed in their department. With the current emphasis on use of force around the country, that should have been even clearer.
Make sure that you examine your department's policy for use of force to make sure that it covers the obvious no-nos. A general rule of thumb is that if it shouldn't be done, a policy should exist. If someone can do something they will.
Use this incident as a good example of what you shouldn't do on duty. Most police officers are outstanding people and having the few bad eggs makes it hard for the rest of them. Be professional, be outstanding, and stay safe out there.
About The Author:
Ian is a staff writer at APTI and hospital security officer at a major medical center who has a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice with a Specialization in Administration of Justice. He has held multiple positions in the security industry from patrol supervisor to auxiliary public safety officer. At APTI he brings his writing skills to help further the careers of others and provide quality content. Feel free to visit his freelancing site or his creative writing site.
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