The only way I have found to combat this is to draft policy that tightly links the agency to the officers actions, making it harder to sever liability. When we redrafted policy our tactics instructors and those with trigger time (often the same folks) wrote the policy in such a way that so long as the officer is following the penal code in regard to force (very broad authority) they are good with agency policy.
Originally Posted by EDELWEISS
Sometimes its semantics and the drafting needs to take advantage of that (if you are a policy maker or have input in the process). Pursuits for instance. Policy says that "pursuits will only be initiated for felonies or crimes of violence" sounds good right?
The belief among the "risk management attorneys" is that Agency can sever liability because "officer proactive" chased what he thought was a doper when the guy didn't signal a turn and drove off once the lights were activated. If you have a less than stellar admin (which thankfully I dont work under anymore) they are happy, feeling that they are "covered" and liability is minimized......
Except, the officer didnt initiate the pursuit based on the turn signal, the officer initiated the pursuit based on the suspects evading in a vehicle, a felony offense and so notes in his report. The initial attempted stop was for a misdemeanor and not a crime of violence, but the fleeing in the vehicle is a felony and satisfies the policy on pursuits.
While agencies like to sever liability, severing takes the "deep pockets" away and makes lawsuits less likely and with lower settlement payouts. it still leaves the officer hanging. I would rather that the agency is compelled to defend the actions to defend themselves (along with my own attorney) , while it brings the "deep pockets" back into the arena, those same deep pockets are now spending on the officer.
Admittedly , my agency is the exception rather than the rule. But if you are planning you career, try to plan it around affecting change that will make the job easier for yourself and those that follow. Even the risk management lawyers like a good spirited discussion and can be swayed or the argument pulled to other areas, leaving the bones of the policy safe (especially when they are liability lawyers, NOT experts in penal code)
NEVER CONFUSE GETTING LUCKY WITH GOOD TACTICS (unless you are at the bar)
I'm not in the business of Losing
A stab to the taint beats most of the mystical bullshit, most of the time