Will saving your life cost APD officers their careers?
By Dan Klein
-- Is this what we want? For an officer who is possibly going to save your life to be second-guessed and potentially disciplined for his actions?
-- The police reform effort has been hijacked by a minority group who believes anything an officer does must be held up to scrutiny and reviewed a million times over so they can find fault somewhere.
Will someone without an agenda and with common sense please go to Judge James Browning and tell him to stop the insanity that is plaguing the Albuquerque Police Department consent decree? How far down the rabbit hole will we allow the independent monitor in the case, James Ginger, and the cop-hating far left progressives go in punishing APD officers for the sins of the past?
The Albuquerque Police Department just released their December 2020/January 2021 Internal Affairs Force Review newsletter. This newsletter is supposed to aid officers in understanding and implementing the DOJ CASA requirements. In this latest newsletter there was an article on the use of Sternum Rubs, which help cops save lives:
Use of Sternum Rubs
While a sternum rub is not specifically mentioned within APD SOP, it is a common technique officers use in the field to rouse an individual who may be unconscious. While understood as a medical intervention, the very nature of the sternum rub “the application of a painful stimulus with the knuckles of a closed fist (rubbing) the center of the chest,” elevates the action to a level one use of force. Until clarified by SOP or Special Order, IAFD will continue to analyze the “sternum rub” as a use of force, to include the necessity and reasonableness of the intervention.
On January 6, 2021, interim chief of police Harold Medina issued Special Order 21-02, Levels of Resistance. Here is a portion:
"Sworn personnel shall use force only based on overt behavior and not anticipated behavior."
In the crazy Utopian world known as the Albuquerque Police CASA agreement, you now have officers being formally instructed that if they use any force against a passive person (unconscious would be passive) to try to save that person's life, they must document it and it must be reviewed by Internal Affairs Force Review detectives. This review could result in discipline for the officer and will definitely be logged as a use of force incident in the officer’s personnel file. If an officer gets too many uses of force (even if deemed appropriate), they are flagged in the department use of force early warning system.
You might be asking yourself, “So what if it gets reviewed and the officer might be flagged as a potential use of force problem? What’s the big deal?”
The big deal is we are making it easier for the officer to not act, than to act. That may get someone hurt or killed in the future, that’s the problem. The people running this DOJ monitoring have taken use of force monitoring too far, and now life saving measures could be reviewed and documented.
Using the IAFD sternum rub advice and the new special order consider these scenarios:
-- An officer is eating and notices a person choking and unable to breath. Using the Heimlich maneuver the officer applies force to the persons abdomen to expel what is obstructing the airway.
-- How about and officer performing CPR chest compressions on someone they believe is having a heart attack. This will certainly fracture a rib or two. The person is unconscious, not overtly threatening, the officer is only anticipating that they are having a heart attack.
-- How about a drug addict who is unconscious after shooting up. The officer applies NarCan by either injection or nasal spray to force the person to come out of their drug induced utopia. The officer is forcing a chemical agent into a person who has not given permission and this chemical agent is very unpleasant.
-- What if an officer uses an defibrillator on an unconscious person, therefore sending massive amounts of electricity (sorta like a TASER) into a person who has not given permission? This action may cause burns to the skin and certainly a shock to the entire body.
-- How about an officer who comes upon an accident scene where a car is on fire and an unconscious person is trapped inside? The officer uses their Asp to break the window, possibly inadvertently striking the person and causing injury. The officer then drags the person through the car window, to safety, but in doing so causes scrapes and abrasions to the persons arms and face.
Under the current policy and rules, it appears that all of these incidents will cause the officer to be flagged for review for using force. If Internal Affairs Force Review is claiming a sternum rub is a level one force action, then all of these actions are level one or higher and must be reviewed and documented in the officers’ file.
Is this what we want? For an officer who is possibly going to save your life to be second-guessed and potentially disciplined for his actions?
This type of stupidity will only cause officers to slow down, wait for AFD (that’s old school for AFR) to get there. Why? Because AFD can do all of these things and they don’t have to worry about being accused of excessive force or having someone like Ginger and his team complain, as they did in the latest monitor report, that officers had to drag an obese person from their home causing abrasions on the person's arms and head, but in the report the officers forget to mention the scrap on the head. Oh the humanity!
Look, APD was far to heavy-handed years ago. They are a much better police department now, but the DOJ is moving the needle to far. Common sense and reason must rule at some point.
This is where Albuquerque is at with the reform effort. It has been hijacked by a minority group who believes anything an officer does must be held up to scrutiny and reviewed a million times over so they can find fault somewhere—by a million-dollar monitor, who nitpicks and embellishes his own reports, leaving out specific important information, all the while damning APD officers who do the same.
It appears the message being sent to officers is that taking action may get you in trouble. Is this what we wanted from reform? Because of this craziness every citizen should be concerned that we are creating a police department that will be rewarded for “inaction,” and “slowing down,” as compared to “action.” Honestly, if you were an APD officer with a family to provide for, would you put your career on the line by getting to a scene quickly and taking action? The monitor and Judge Browning would do well to consider the unanticipated results of the DOJ overreach.
How long will this insanity go on? If only we had a mayor with the courage to stand up in federal court and make these arguments, but that happening is just a dream.