As domestic violence related incidents have spiked during the Covid-19 outbreak, so too has officers’ ‘use-of-force’. In fact, two such incidents took place in just the past four days involving the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.
Sunday two deputies were involved in the tasing of a man suspected of violating a domestic violence protection order. The Snohomish County Multiple Agency Response Team is investigating the deputies’ ‘use of force’ on the man. The Team is also investigating the ‘use of force’ of four other deputies involving another man having a mental health crisis just four days prior to this most recent event. In that incident, the deputies attempted to apprehend the man so that they could take him to a hospital to be evaluated. As to be expected, he didn’t want to go with the deputies. Thus, force was used. Unfortunately, during the altercation, the man may have suffered a head injury, and that is basis for the Team’s investigation.
It is a well settled principle that police should use only the amount of force necessary to mitigate an incident, make an arrest, or protect themselves or others from harm. The levels – or continuum – of force police may use include basic verbal and physical restraint, less-lethal force, and sometimes even lethal force. Essentially, the ‘use of force’ by law enforcement is only permitted under specific circumstances – such as in self-defense or in the defense of another person or group. The problem becomes when the ‘use of force’ used by an officer is ‘excessive’, and this is what the Team has to assess each time a law enforcement agent (like the deputies in these cases over the past several days) uses force on someone.
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