What Leading Police Chiefs Say About Use of Deadly Force

Unknown-1Here’s what some of our nation’s leading police chiefs, members of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), have to say about the need to raise the standard than Graham v. Connor with regard to police use of deadly force.

“If a chief says they’re just going to do what they think is right for their agency within the confines of the law and without hearing from their community, I think we all know that’s not how to do this job” — Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger

“It’s important to realize that the report [30 Guidelines] isn’t suggesting a change to the Constitutional standard by which an officer’s actions are judged in a civil or criminal proceeding. The governing principle of Graham is ‘objective reasonableness.’ I’ve spoken to constitutional scholars, and there is no crisp, bright-line definition of ‘objective reasonableness.’ So we recommend that officers be trained to a higher standard… We want them to aspire to be better than the minimum… In doing so, concurrently enhance both citizen and officer safety” — Camden County Chief Scott Thomson.

“When I read the PERF report, I thought we were already doing about 80 percent of the 30 recommendations. Then I sat down with my staff and asked them which of the guidelines we were doing. And I found out that what I thought we were doing, and what our trainers were actually teaching, weren’t exactly the same thing. That was eye-opening for me” — Minneapolis Chief Janee Harteau.

“The [police] expression, ‘The most important thing is to go home safe at the end of the day.’ We’ve all heard it in roll call 1,000 times and said it to ourselves. And our intentions have been good… In Scotland, they take that notion one step further. They talk about wanting their cops to go home safely, but in the same breath they talk about wanting the people they interact with to go home or to jail safely…  Every one of us as  law enforcement leaders understands that we have to listen to the public. We need to be in tune with what their concerns are about our use of force. If a chief says they’re just going to do what they think is right for their agency within the confines of the law and without hearing from their community, I think we all know that’s not how to do this job” – Montgomery County Chief Tom Manger.