Lawful but Awful – Rethinking Police Strategy to Avoid Violence

Louis Hayes is a Chicago area SWAT and CIT trained police officer trying to change certain core strategic approaches employed by police. He’s got a new piece up about “lawful but awful” cases, many of which involve disability. Hayes writes:

What I read from activists’ and advocates’ intelligent responses (SPECIAL NOTE: intelligent)
to many of the high profile “Lawful But Awful” cases is a sense of
officers needlessly rushing into action. While I dispute many of their
claims in the recent national cases, they do have a point. In SOME
cases, I see videos of officers creating their own jeopardy – by closing
the distance, acting too quickly, moving in before gathering more
information. When this is combined with the agency not properly training
its officers in recognition of mental illness or disability, this is
counter to any claim of “risk management.”

Critics of the above stabilize mindset (generally from inside
police work) claim this higher goal is too risky for officers and puts
them at risk. I contend not. I argue that when taken from an analytical
perspective of risk, I am not asking officers to accept more risk.
Actually quite the opposite – expose officers to less risk, thereby needing less
force to overcome the lower risk! I also advocate the complete
empowerment of police officers to use quick, decisive force levels and
options when necessary…up to and including deadly force.

Hayes and I don’t always agree (he’s too fond of TASERs for my liking, for example), but I think he’s one of the sharper voices from WITHIN the law enforcement community to recognize the challenges of reshaping policing.

In fact, I just did a radio interview in which the host, politely, asked me how I respond to the accusation that I’m anti-cop. I wish I had this document at hand when answering. In fact, this kind of response can make the officers safer as well as protecting us and our civil liberties.

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