Friday, February 13, 2009

Great Expectations

Thinking a little bit more about the Dymond Milburn case (the subject of the previous post), and other cases like it, I'm struck by something.

"The city has investigated the matter and found that the conduct of the police officers was appropriate under the circumstances. It's unfortunate that sometimes police officers have to use force against people who are using force against them."
William Helfand, lawyer for the officers in the Milburn case.
Now - to be clear, I've never been a police officer. I've never been to a police academy. But, in a past life, I was a child care worker. For a time, I worked on a unit with nine thirteen year-old children, of both genders, some of whom had mental health issues. Because there were occasional issues with violence and other out-of-control behaviors, we were taught how to restrain a child, if needed. Over the space of a few hours over a couple of days we were trained to restrain a child such that three things were true:
  1. The child was unable to injure themself.
  2. The child was unable to injure the staff member(s) (generally only one or two of us).
  3. The child themself was not injured in the process.
Given this, the only way that police officers are trained to respond to someone who may try to harm them is with escalating force? Someone whom the police are taking into custody freaks out - and the only way to bring things back under control is to beat the subject into submission? Really? This is a reasonable expectation for police officers, when it's not a reasonable expectation for social workers? Granted, you can make the case that social workers aren't trained to use force, while police officers are - but isn't that the point? Just because police officers have access to the use of force as a tool of doing their jobs, does that mean it should always be used?

I think that there's a slight hole in the training regimen.

1 comment:

libhom said...

The child wasn't using force against the cops.