Police misconduct and claims of brutality have taken the news by storm, and make even the most law-abiding citizen nervous about a potential interaction with a police officer resulting in legal action. Many departments have recognized the declining community support for officers to safely interact with criminals, and have instituted de-escalation training for their officers and use of force continuum education, to reduce excessive force claims and injuries.
Excessive force is perhaps the most widely recognized form of police brutality. The use of excessive force is a violation of civil rights laws that are in place to protect citizens against arbitrary and negative action from law enforcement officers. Officers are allowed the “use of force” including hands, batons, tasers, or other weapons when necessary, and in accordance with officer training and department policy, to remove the threat of violence by subduing criminals. However, this broad-based authority is based on policy that dictates what is considered “reasonable” force in any given situation and is often subjective to the instance when force is used. Many departments have mandatory de-escalation training requirements to reduce the chance that an encounter will escalate to the point of violence.
De-escalation training is not mandatory in Florida.
The Department of Justice defines “de-escalation” as “the strategic slowing down of an incident in a manner that allows officers more time, distance, space and tactical flexibility during dynamic situations on the street.” This is a valuable tool for both officers and alleged law breakers to keep an encounter from becoming violent and out of control. Knowledge of the following actions is helpful to citizens and law enforcement alike. De-escalation training is one mechanism to decrease the instances of excessive force used in the field.
Officer action to de-escalate.
1) Listen respectfully. People calm down when they feel they are being listened to and taken seriously.
2) Crowd control. Don’t allow an audience to gather. If two people are having an argument, isolate them to reduce aggressive behavior.
3) Courteous example. Use courteous, professional language to uphold the idea that talk must be calm and respectful.
4) Body language. Be aware not to use intimidating body movements.
5) Control encounter. Reduce offensive speech, cursing, and yelling by explaining that acceptable language would more likely get the point across.
6) Don’t publicly humiliate anyone—especially when others are watching. Be respectful of embarrassing questions and pat downs.
7) Don’t waste time and energy trying to convince a citizen that he’s wrong and you’re right. Do what you need to do without becoming defensive.
8) Remember that “broken record” is a useful way to achieve two goals—conveying the message that you’re in charge while keeping the lid on a potential conflict. “Broken record” means repeating a message as many times as needed.
Officer action to engage in level of force necessary.
Another mechanism used by officers is the continuum of force where the reaction of both criminal and officer will dictate the outcome of force.
Hire an attorney.
If you feel you have been a victim of excessive force by a Fort Lauderdale Police Officer, you should seek counsel at the Law Office of Leader, Leader & Zucker to review your case. Damages may include hospital/medical expenses; past and future permanent disability payments; emotional distress including depression and anxiety; loss of enjoyment of life; physical pain and suffering; and loss of love and companionship due to a death or serious injury caused by police brutality through excessive force.
Leader, Leader & Zucker, P.L.L.C.
633 South Andrews Avenue Suite 201
Fort Lauderdale, FL33301-2269
Phone: 954-523-2020 Fax: 954.523.2525