I am writing this on the back of the video we shared on the main site which featured the Bouncer dealing with a street brawl outside an establishment.
Having read through the comments, of which there are a diverse cross section of sometimes polarising opinions, I felt that I should offer my perspective on the use of Force and some of the pitfalls and challenges we face as Law Enforcement. I speak from a background of both UK and NZ Policing and many years of experience under my belt.
Generally, the comments fell into two camps:
Camp A. Justified, the idiot got what he deserved and the Bouncer was protecting himself
Camp B. Unjustified, it was excessive and he should have just restrained him
I am not going to dissect the incident at hand because none of us were actually there and in all fairness cannot offer an objective point of view
The basic foundations of the use of Force are as follows; Is it Reasonable, Proportionate and Necessary. This is then compared to the person perceived assessment of the threat they face. Here in NZ we use something called TENR. Threat, Exposure, Necessity and Response. This model in fact relates to every single incident we go to from a fight to a Traffic Stop. The Use of Force is a polarising subject within society in general and also to a degree within the ranks. On the one hand we have those who advocate a blanket ‘You get what you deserve’ mentality and on the other we have people who do not want the Police to use any Force. Any Police Officer will tell you that the last thing we want to do is in fact get into a fight or confrontation. Because at that point all other options have failed and it wont end well for anybody.
Contrary to popular belief, the Police are not in fact trained to any degree of proficiency in Control and Restraint techniques. We don’t have Ninja like techniques nor are we superhuman. We in fact have the bare minimum of training in how to handcuff, take down and control subjects in sterile environments. this is down to budgets. Money dictates how well we are trained. In fact over the past several years I have not had any meaningful training in any techniques at all. This is a travesty and places us in real danger. However the danger is not only a physical one. Law Enforcement Officers are placed in the dangerous position of being stood on the pillory by arm chair critics, the media, social media trolls, their bosses and in fact everyone else who thinks they have a justified opinion on what we should or should not have done in any given situation.
It is easy for anyone to sit back and watch a clip, which is normally shown well out of context, and become judge, jury and executioner. This includes cops. They have the luxury of sitting back in their comfy chair, in no danger, without the adrenaline, without the shouting, screaming and abuse being thrown at you. They, in their comfy seats have all the time in the world to analyse, in their wisdom, an act that was decided upon in less than a tenth of a second, in a volatile and violent situation.
Let me ask you this; Have you ever tried to make a reasoned decision when somebody is effectively trying to smash your face in? Reason does not come into such situations. Training, or a lack thereof, and a will to survive takes over. However, as Law Enforcement, along with this primal will to survive, we also have the obligation to arrest, subdue and deal with the offender/s in a manner which is professional.
So while the critics can sit back, we have to take into account the person size, their demeanour, weapons, crowd situations, other threats, any offences, what is the level of force I need to use, how do I use it, when should I use it. However the overarching thought that goes through many of our minds first and foremost in this day and age is this “How much trouble am I going to get into for this”. This is a mentality forced upon us by our Bosses, the media, Social Media and anyone else around who may make a complaint about what you do. This is going through our minds and being processed in that tenth of a second. Now sit back and read that again. It may have taken you ten seconds to just read that. We have to process it and decide how to act in a tenth of a second, yes a tenth of a second. A blink of an eye. Now weight that up. Can you honestly believe that? I assure you it is the truth.
And this thought process can prove fatal. If our first consideration is how much trouble am I going to be in, then we are not thinking about our own survival. And when that happens we are immediately on the back foot. We are placed at a disadvantage and we and our colleagues are placed in danger. I haven’t met on Officer yet who doesn’t think the same in this day and age.
I have been in too many situations that I care to think about where I have been injured because of that thought process. I am now at a point in my career where I do one of two things. I either step back and think to hell with it, or if the need is urgent I step in and do what I need to do. To hell with others opinions, including the bosses who want justification for every minor act, word and thought. My aim is to go home at the end of the shift in one piece. I will deal with the full out later.
At the end of the day, we are Law Enforcement. We are not here to pussy foot around and treat you nicely if you are acting in a violent manner. Its time that the arm chair critics realised this, its time the Politicians here and in the UK actually offered some meaningful and real support and had the balls to stand up for us when things get violent. Its time our bosses said ‘Enough, we will stop treating our staff like criminals and support their decisions, we will standby them’
Because what is going to happen? I will tell what will happen. One day I might turn up to a brawl, a domestic or an aggravated burglary. I might assess the situation and decide it isn’t worth the ensuing storm to in fact do anything. And the person who needs my help might be that arm chair critic who criticised me, belittled my actions and demanded I be prosecuted. They could be that person who filed an incident and posted a brief snapshot of Social Media and complained about me.
The irony is that if I stood back and did nothing, they would do exactly the same.
So in effect, we are damned if do and damned if we don’t. We simply cannot win. This is the mindset we go out with everyday. Yes, we do make mistakes because we are human. Many of us own the mistakes, learn from them and get back on with the job. Sometimes things do go wrong. Sometimes people do get hurt by us, sometimes we get hurt.
However despite the critics, despite the bosses, despite the Media and Trolls, we will still do our job because we do what we do, because no matter what, deep down we still care.
Written by someone serving on the Thin Blue Line (New Zealand), who is also a regular contributor to our Digital Magazine, S__ts & Giggles…
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