The ripple effect of police ruling
Re “Chief’s video upsets police panel,” June12
As the former executive director of the Los Angeles Police Commission, I am disappointed in the current commission’s decision to find the use of force in the Ezell Ford case “out of policy.” Its decision is based solely on the tactics employed by the officers and, in the members’ opinion, the lack of probable cause to stop Ford in the first place.
Officers in the field must make immediate decisions as to probable cause. Most of the time they are right, and on few occasions they are wrong. The whole field of probable cause is always shifting, with prosecutors and judges continually changing the rules.
To say that an officer who makes a mistake in stopping a suspect must then be found “out of policy” for his use of force is ludicrous. What should that officer do? Not defend himself because someone might second-guess him?
This decision could result in two possible outcomes. Officers will stop initiating field contacts as they have doubts as to whether they will be held liable for a bad decision, as is now happening in Baltimore, or an officer will put himself in jeopardy as he hesitates when his life is in danger because he is concerned about his tactics.
Either out come would be disastrous to the safety of the city and officers.