Friday, November 16, 2012

Lazy cop syndrome

The other day Professor Geoffrey Alpert, a US expert on the use of force by police, appeared before the Coroner's inquiry into the death of Roberto Curti. He calls  heavy reliance on tasers by police 'lazy cop syndrome.'

I posted about this a couple of weeks ago.    I said then that using the Taser on average three times a day showed that police used the weapon much too readily, and it had obviously replaced negotiation, conversation, reasoning.

Prof Alpert said: "In looking at thousands of uses of force, we found that police officers were turning too early to using the taser and too often used the taser. It turns out it's a weapon of convenience as opposed to a weapon that is necessary."

The Coroner's findings in the Curti inquest are now in, and what a damning summing up it was. Not only of the officers involved but also of police procedures. And of the inevitable cover up by those involved.
 NSW Coroner Mary Jerram said the pack of officers who chased Curti acted like  "schoolboys in Lord of the Flies", "a number of the officers were ... reckless, careless, dangerous and excessively forceful". "(Their actions) were an abuse of police powers, in some instances even thuggish."

Coroner Jerram said many officers had lied to the inquest and "conveniently forgotten" evidence. She said the most senior officer present, Inspector Gregory Cooper, gave evidence that was so conflicting and self-serving it "hardly deserves narration".

It all sounds so familiar doesn't it.

She recommended that five officers be disciplined and the actions of police during the pursuit and restraint be referred to the Police Integrity Commission.

As for what are obviously chaotic police procedures, the Sydney Morning Herald reports that she  called for "an immediate review of the vague and confusing standard operating procedures relating to the use of capsicum spray, Tasers, handcuffs, restraint and positional asphyxia, particularly the use of multiple Taser shots and its "drive stun mode" as a pain compliance tool."

The Police Commisioner made all the right noises after the findings, but it's all happened before and much the same things were said. Nothing has changed.

Sydney Morning Herald report.

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