Updated: Sep 18, 2020
Police deserve to have a clear understanding of public expectations so they can do their jobs without second-guessing themselves. Citizens deserve to have clarity on what they can expect from interactions with police.
We need a nationwide Police ROE and Independent investigative Commission to review all possible violations of the ROE enshrined in federal law.
Even captured enemy combatants in military operational areas are protected by an ROE; that is the very least protection we can provide our own citizens. Police also deserve at least as much clarity as we provide our Soldiers and peacekeepers. Soldiers are issued an ROE card for each area of operations. We should do the same for police.
A proposed Federal Rules of Engagement (ROE) for all police interactions with the public that states (To be printed on a card and carried by all officers at all times when on duty):
1. Protection. Nothing in the ROE should be construed as limiting the officer’s right to defend themselves, however the protection of all civilians including detainees (regardless of race, gender, orientation, or creed) is a police officer’s primary duty. This applies universally, including to citizens suspected of crimes.
2. Unnecessary interactions. If another agency (social services, CPS, medical assistance) is better equipped to address a situation, call for support. Avoid all unnecessary interactions. Necessary interactions should be polite and professional as far as is reasonably possible.
2. Minimum force. Use only the minimum force necessary (and only when force is absolutely necessary) to accomplish only warranted arrests and reasonable detentions.
3. De-escalation. Reduce any and all force used at the earliest possible opportunity. Continue to reduce force incrementally at each possible juncture. Discontinue the use of force completely as soon as possible.
4. Proportionality. When force is necessary, use only proportional force. A baton is disproportional to hands; rubber bullets and tear gas are disproportional to road blocking; any lethal force is disproportional to all non-lethal force.
5. Basic Care. Provide immediate aid to all those in need, including first aid to any detainees injured in the process of arrest. Call for appropriate medical assistance at the earliest possible juncture for any injured civilian, including detainees and those suspected of crimes. Provide all necessary basic needs for all detainees at the earliest possible juncture including but not limited to protection, water, food, help breathing, essential medications etc. officers are responsible for the health and safety for all citizens in their custody regardless of crime or suspicion.
6. Responsibility to intervene. Police officers have a responsibility to intervene immediately if they witness any violation or suspected violation of the ROE or other abuse of civilians.
7. Mandatory reporting. Police officers are required to report all violations of the ROE or other suspected abuses at the earliest possible opportunity, but no later than 24 hours after a possible violation.
Independent Federal Commission. It is an inappropriate conflict of interest for police to investigate alleged abuses by police. We must create an independent federal commission empowered and resourced to to conduct a full mandatory automatic investigation of every instance of the use of deadly force and alleged abuse or misconduct by police.
This commission must also be empowered to recommend charges to a grand jury.
This is the bare minimum protection we give enemy combatants on a battlefield consistent with the Geneva Convention, our citizens deserve at least the same rights as an enemy combatant.