Saturday, May 12, 2012

Force Decisions: How the Law Makes 'Em

September last, I did a preview of Rory Miller's new book, Force Decisions. You can click the link and read the preview, but to sum it up, this one is about how the police come to their rules-of-engagement. Who to hit or not hit; when and where and why. Shoot, don't shoot, taze, don't taze, like that.

I gave it a good review, because as in his previous books, I like Miller's writing, the information he has to impart, and how he lays it out. 

This one is designed for citizens unfamiliar with how the police come up with their rules and regulations regarding such things. Good book, you should get it. 

 My one caveat was that he didn't seem to know any bad cops, so sections dealing with LEO's who step over the line were exceedingly thin. 

If an officer is following the agency guidelines, then s/he is covered, and when citizens get pissed off because of some awful thing the po-lice did, they don't understand that such was allowed under the scope of duty. (Sometimes these policies are suspect and need to be changed, and that happens, but if the officer involved in a dust-up was following them properly at the time, both management and the union will stand up for them. In theory.)

That police step over the lines happens, and I've pointed out several egregious examples of that here over the years, ranging from bean bagging twelve-year-old girls; to using live shotgun rounds on a suspect instead of bean-bag rounds as intended; to beating the crap out of the wrong guy who just happened to be walking along at the wrong place and time. 

When somebody gets beaten to death by police officers on the street and the coroner is shocked at the damage, somebody overstepped a line. Shit happens, of course, but suspected pissing in the bushes is not generally considered a capital crime ...

Usually these result in big lawsuits and almost every time, the city or county sponsoring the agency loses and has to pay out big bucks. 

That said, Miller's book is out and it is a must for people who aren't police but who want to understand how these things are determined.

Get the book here. 


SM said...

Is any of it relevant to people outside the US? I noticed some points in "Meditations on Violence" where he seemed to forget that some of his readers might not be Americans, and I'd imagine that this book has some technical legal content.

Steve Perry said...

I don't know enough about police agencies around the world to say, but I suspect it is mostly relevant to the U.S., and even there, it will vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

The specifics will be different, but I would guess that in democratic countries, there will be some similarities insofar as general principles.

There is a disclaimer up front, this isn't a legal book and one shouldn't read it that way.

Jim said...

It should have some relevance to other countries, though some of the general rules and principles may be a little different. (I haven't read it yet; still waiting for my copy.) One big difference is that we have the 4th Amendment, and any use of force is technically a seizure. Probably most relevant to cops in the UK and Canada, least relevant as you move to more totalitarian place.

That's without even beginning to get into things like corruption, as we see in Mexico.

SM said...

Thank you. Its a shame, but I suspect that writing one book to cover most of the US is hard enough! Its a big country.