Deadly Violations: Police Disregard Safety Guidelines in Hundreds of Fatal Encounters

A disturbing trend of police officers violating safety guidelines for restraining and subduing people has led to hundreds of deaths over the past decade, with a significant proportion of these incidents involving prone restraint and repeated Taser use, highlighting the need for consistent national standards and better training for officers to prevent such tragedies." This description focuses on the primary topic of police officers violating safety guidelines, the main entities involved (police officers and the people they interact with), the context of the issue (law enforcement in the United States), and the significant consequences (hundreds of deaths). The description also provides objective and relevant details that will help an AI generate an accurate visual representation of the article's content, such as the specific actions involved (prone restraint and Taser use) and the context of the issue (law enforcement in the United States).

author-image
Nitish Verma
New Update
Deadly Violations: Police Disregard Safety Guidelines in Hundreds of Fatal Encounters

Deadly Violations: Police Disregard Safety Guidelines in Hundreds of Fatal Encounters

An Associated Press investigation has uncovered a disturbing trend of police officers violating well-known guidelines for safely restraining and subduing people, leading to hundreds of deaths over the past decade. The probe found that in approximately 45% of the 1,036 deaths examined, officers breached safety guidelines in three or more ways, often involving pinning people facedown or stunning them repeatedly with Tasers.

Why this matters: This investigation highlights a systemic issue within law enforcement that has resulted in unnecessary deaths and injuries, underscoring the need for consistent national standards and better training for officers to prevent such tragedies. The lack of adherence to best practices can erode trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve, ultimately affecting public safety and social cohesion.

The investigation, hundreds, which spanned from 2012 to 2021, revealed that in about half of the deaths, medical officials ruled that law enforcement caused or contributed to the fatalities, but rarely mentioned whether policing best practices were followed. Officers breached guidelines in three or more ways in roughly 440 deaths, with many violations involving prone restraint or repeated Taser use.

Alex del Carmen, a longtime criminologist, emphasized the need for national rules for how officers apply force, stating, "Directives from the federal government would help establish consistent use of force standards." However, Tyler Owen, a former officer and spokesperson for the Texas Municipal Police Association, believes that nearly all police officers follow guidelines and that the solution to avoiding trouble is to comply with police.

The focused on four areas where guidelines were frequently violated: prone restraint, Taser use, physical holds, and failure to de-escalate. The 1995 Justice Department bulletin advised against prone restraint, warning of positional asphyxia and cardiac arrest risks. By 2001, the DOJ advised departments to develop policies addressing positional asphyxia.

Despite these warnings, the Associated Press found that officers restrained someone facedown in at least 740 of the 1,036 deaths, usually with one or sometimes more using their bodyweight. In about half of the prone restraint cases, police didn't turn over the person as soon as they were handcuffed or did so only after they had stopped responding.

The lack of a national rulebook for policing in the United States contributes to the problem. Each state writes its own standards, and individual departments and training centers determine what officers learn. This leads to inconsistent training and a lack of adherence to best practices.

The Associated Press sheds light on the widespread violations of police force guidelines, highlighting the need for consistent national standards and better training for officers. The findings underscore the importance of adhering to best practices to prevent unnecessary deaths and injuries. As Roger Clark, a retired Los Angeles County Sheriff's lieutenant, stated, "Body weight will restrict the ability to expand the chest, and they'll die, and everybody knows it."

Key Takeaways

  • 45% of 1,036 police-related deaths involved officers breaching safety guidelines in 3+ ways.
  • Half of deaths were caused or contributed to by law enforcement, but rarely mentioned guideline adherence.
  • Prone restraint and repeated Taser use were common guideline violations, leading to unnecessary deaths.
  • Lack of national policing standards and inconsistent training contribute to the problem.
  • Experts call for national rules and better training to prevent deaths and injuries.