Thursday, May 17, 2001

Police policy says shooting must be justifiable

        The Cincinnati Police Division's firearms discharge policy explains — in bold print — that respect for human life requires that officers exhaust all other reasonable means before resorting to the use of firearms.

        The “most serious act in which a police officer can engage,” it says, is the use of deadly force.

        In considering the use of firearms, it tells officers, “understand that you are responsible for your acts and that you may be required to justify your acts in a court of law.”

        Another policy says officers may use whatever force is reasonably necessary to effect an arrest — and no more. Officers cannot use deadly force merely to prevent misdemeanor offenders from escaping, it says.

        When shooting, officers are trained to aim for center mass and to fire only until the threat is removed.

        The use of deadly force to prevent the escape of a felony offender also is “constitutionally unreasonable,” the policy says, except when the escape presents an immediate risk of death or serious physical harm to the officer or someone else.

        When the suspect poses no immediate threat of death or serious physical harm to others, the harm resulting from failing to apprehend him does not justify the use of deadly force to do so.


— Jane Prendergast


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