In Their Own Words: Master and Commander edition

The Los Angeles Police Protective League Board of Directors, on their understanding of Officer Safety:

This time it was a Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel, essentially ruling that unless an officer is actually under physical attack, he/she cannot use a Taser to subdue a suspect. And, for good measure, these starry-eyed jurists, who probably have never been in a physical fight in their lives, opined that police officers should not fear irrational suspects defying officer commands as long as the suspect stays 15 feet from the officer.

As every street cop knows, any suspect within 15 feet who is actively resisting verbal commands is a threat to officer safety.

If a suspect complies with an officer’s commands, the use of force or a weapon is unnecessary. When a suspect fails to comply with verbal commands, it means the situation is rapidly escalating and some form of force will be required to gain compliance.

— Los Angeles Police Protective League Board of Directors, lapd.com: The Official Blog of the Los Angeles Police Protective League (2009-12-30): The Ninth Circuit’s year-end ‘gift’ to law enforcement

(Via William N. Grigg.)

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4 replies to In Their Own Words: Master and Commander edition Use a feed to Follow replies to this article · TrackBack URI

  1. Gabriel

    I read that before the 1850s most places did not have an organized police force as we would recognize them today. Kind of hard to imagine, really. Maybe population growth over the last 200 years had something to do with it?

  2. Rad Geek

    Gabriel,

    You’re right that modern professionalized police forces are a relatively new invention. (The Boston Police Department, usually cited as the oldest professional police force in the U.S.A., dates to 1854, although there was a small organized daytime patrol before that which was established in 1838.) Prior to that most law enforcement was carried out either by a few appointed officers (sheriffs and marshals, in the U.S.), by officially-organized posses, or by individual-level or mob informal enforcement. Larger cities did often hire on night watches to stand guard at checkpoints or make patrols around a relatively limited circuit.

    Most cities developed a professionalized police force much later than that, even. I would argue that the fact that your average small town maintains a government police force these days is still largely a function of state and federal government subsidies aimed at putting cops on the streets.

    I’m sure that population growth had something to do with this; but I think that what had a lot more to do with it were (1) increasing demands on the government to act as an instrument of permanent social control (first by breaking Irish heads, later by attacking vagrants and people walking while black, then the War on Drug-users, etc.), where before it had acted mostly as an occasional agent of terror (so, not constant patrols and harassment, but rather the occasional massive reprisal); (2) political centralization and the spread of state and federal subsidies for their favored sort of local good government policies; and also (3) the emergence of professionalized, civil service models of government, with the consequent increases in government employment at all levels and the increasing insistence on professionalization, and on autonomous executive departments with independent hiring power and bureaucratic management.

  3. Gabriel

    I don’t understand what you mean by “increasing professionalization”? Haven’t governments always had civil functionaries like administrators and bureaucrats?

    Do the reasons you give for the formation of police departments also apply to the increase in the prison population? What was imprisonment and punishment like before the 20th century?

  4. Discussed at radgeek.com

    Rad Geek People’s Daily 2010-01-23 – Siege mentality:

    […] GT 2010-01-18: In Their Own Words: Master and Commander edition […]

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