Reasonable Force Isn’t Perfect Force

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Reasonable Force Isn’t Perfect Force

2017-07-11T23:30:43+00:00July 12th, 2017|Conversation, From the Grand Lodge, US Police News|Comments Off on Reasonable Force Isn’t Perfect Force

On Tuesday, USA Today published an editorial demanding the adoption of uniform police use-of-force policies.  The editorial is extremely anti-law enforcement.  However, USA Today also published an opposing view written by National Fraternal Order of Police President Chuck Canterbury.

The text of the opposing view:

Due process of police officers must be fact-driven and based on settled law, not influenced by political agendas: Opposing view

All of us make decisions each and every day using imperfect information. We rely on our reason, our experience and the limited information we have available at the time.

Law enforcement officers must do the same thing in much more difficult and immediate circumstances. When confronted with a situation, the officer must rely on his training, experience and the knowledge available to him in that instant. This is settled law — governed by the standard promulgated in 1989 by the Supreme Court in Graham v. Connor, which provides that an officer may use objectively reasonable force based on the given situation.

Our nation has more than 18,000 jurisdictions, each of which may have different use of force policies based on their training, enforcement needs and equipment availability. However, the foundation of every one of those polices is Graham’s objectively reasonable standard: The reasonableness “of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight.”

We recognize that there are those who are frustrated by the judicial process, yet the police have the right to due process. Due process must be fact-driven and based on settled law, not influenced by political agendas, media speculation or the 20/20 vision of hindsight.

No federal statute or federally imposed regulation can supplant the existing standard. In Graham, then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist, citing an earlier decision, spoke directly to this issue: “The test of reasonableness … is not capable of precise definition or mechanical application.”

You cannot craft a law, rule or regulation that takes into consideration every possible variable in a rapidly evolving situation with the potential for violence. You must rely on the officer’s training, his experience, and his judgment. These things cannot be replaced or replicated by a statute.

We all share the same commitment to public and officer safety and with that in mind, I suggest we try to maintain our own reasonableness when considering these issues.

Chuck Canterbury is the national president of the Fraternal Order of Police.

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John Blackmon

A retired law enforcement officer who now serves as the President of the Fraternal Order of Police Tri-County Lodge #3.
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