Blaska Policy Werkes recommendation #1: Do not assault a police officer
If the generals in Madison’s War on Cops had their way, police would be stripped of their sidearms and sent to restorative justice camps if they dared fight back when assaulted.
The Derail the Jail crowd, BLM, and Progressive Dane claimed a major victory when they browbeat the Common Council in June 2016 to commit up to $400,000 to a Berkeley, California policy boutique to study the police. The vote was 19-1 — that one being Ald. Paul Skidmore, a brave and — at the time — a lonely man. Today, he has been confirmed as a very wise man.
The OIR Group complied with their mandate by churning out 146 (count ’em) recommendations to constrain, control and hamstring the police.
The pip was the one suggesting that Madison police refrain from defending themselves until physically attacked! City attorney Michael May rejected that absurd advice in Wednesday’s formal response. Heeding OIR’s recommendation …
… could mean that officers could only employ deadly force after they have been attacked, shot at or injured. An officer who is incapacitated is unable to protect himself or defend innocent citizens.
Yes, perhaps convicted felon Tony T. Robinson Jr. would still be alive today but perhaps the police officer called to the scene would be dead.
OIR Group put its recommendation in the context of a 1989 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Graham v. Connor held that a police officer is entitled to defend himself from imminent harm as s/he perceives it at the time — in real time — not after the luxury of a lengthy post-incident investigation.
OIR Recommendation #90: MPD should publicize to its officers and its community its commitment and willingness to go beyond the Graham v. Connor standards when it further refines its policies relating to the use of force.
Police Chief Koval for the MPD responded:
Graham v. Connor, 1989, stands as the seminal case on police use-of-force in the United States. The OIR report seems strangely dismissive of Graham as “a 30-year old Supreme Court case.” No one would view Miranda v. Arizona that way, but Graham has been every bit as impactful on American policing as Miranda has.
Graham v. Connor ruled that police use-of-force was to be evaluated under an objective reasonableness standard. The test must be viewed from the perspective of a reasonable officer, based on the information he or she had at the time of the incident (and not through 20/20 hindsight).
Police have a constitutional right to self-defense
City attorney May added:
Graham v. Connor … is the Constitutional standard all officers must follow when deploying deadly force. The city attorney is aware of no police department in the United States who subjects its officers to a more stringent standard for using deadly force.
MPD trains its officers that deadly force is a last resort and already deploys less lethal force options such as bean bag rounds and Tasers. Moving away from the Graham v. Connor standard could mean the officers could only employ deadly force after they have been attacked, shot at or injured. An officer who is incapacitated is unable to protect himself or defend innocent citizens.
The city attorney cannot recommend abandoning Graham v. Connor for another standard. Employing a more stringent standard may have the unintended effect of making the City and its officers open to greater liability, as claims might be made that failure to meet the City’s new self-imposed standard was actionable.
Or, what rational human being would apply to work as a cop in a town that refused to allow police to defend themselves until attacked? Come to think, that may be one reason why applicants to MPD are way down these days.
Recall that Tony Robinson’s drug-abusing friends were the ones who called police that March evening in 2015 after Robinson assaulted one of them and turned on complete strangers out on Williamson Street. That officer, believing that someone was being assaulted in the second floor apartment, ascended the narrow staircase only to be confronted by an out-of-control young man at the top of the stairs. A struggle ensued and the officer fired, unwilling to yield control of his sidearm and thereby his life or the life of others.
It is fair to conjecture that had that officer been unarmed, he might have been cast down the stairs to a broken neck, paralysis or death.
‘Complete waste of money’
Your Squire and a few others sided with Ald. Skidmore — most especially Our Ms. Vicki McKenna and the Fitzsimmons, Steve and Paula. But so did a handful of isthmus liberals, including Greg Humphrey, who wrote on 9 March 2017:
This blog was four-square against the Madison City Council wasting $400,000 on a study to “review” the police department. Most residents I have interacted with have expressed outrage at the action taken by the council to placate the loudest voices in our city. … The council-backed study is simply demoralizing to Madison PD … a complete waste of our hard-earned tax dollars. They took $400,000 from an emergency fund to study a force that has been nationally recognized at a time when the city complains a shortage of monies for worthwhile purposes.
Blaska’s Bottom Line: Friends, Tell your children to not assault a police officer. Somehow, that recommendation did not find its way into the OIR report.