I would like to start this off by acknowledging that I strongly support police officers. I believe their jobs are noble and they provide a vital service to protecting our great nation’s freedoms.
The vast majority of police interactions are good and most of the issues we see, is simply the media demonizing officers for ratings and other political agendas. This article is an officer’s opinion based off a video that was posted regarding the actions of a Logan Ohio School Resource Officer.
If you haven’t seen the video, please take a moment watch it below.
With that said, police officers have been delegated the responsibility to protect life and property and the apprehension of criminal offenders must at all times be secondary to the protection of life. This brings me to the actions of the Logan Ohio Police Department’s School Resource Officer (SRO) where he decided the proper course of action was to wrestle and Taser a woman in front of her children, while she was sitting on the bleachers at a children’s football game.
A quick search reveals on August 1 st , Logan City issued an executive order that any individual within the city who is age five and over and “able to medically or psychologically tolerate a face covering shall be required to wear a face covering where consistent social distancing of at least six feet is not possible, reasonable or prudent. I believe the social distancing was specific to non- family members. Needless to say, Logan Ohio PD will likely have some trouble in the near future because I believe this woman might have had a medical exemption and she was social distancing from others.
As a disclaimer, I am a seasoned law enforcement officer and a use of
force instructor and I respect our justice system, so this article is not to declare guilt or innocence, it’s merely to offer a perspective about what I perceived as deeply concerning behavior by a Logan City Ohio Police Officer. I have loyalty to the Constitution, not towards anyone who doesn’t uphold it.
First off, let me provide you some insight on how mask law arrests can get turned into other crimes. If you are in a location and they want you to wear a mask and you refuse, they simply tell the officer that person is no longer allowed on their property. The officer then tells you that you need to leave and if you stay, you will be criminally trespassing. If you refuse to leave,
“technically,” they arrest you for trespassing and not the mask violation; although we all know without the mask complaint, the trespassing never would have existed.
Secondly, when you look at an officer’s use of force, it’s vital to set emotions aside and look at facts and governing case laws. One of the primary case laws that is utilized as a measuring stick for an officer’s actions in all use of force cases, is Graham v Connor. The case law in summary is:
In Graham v Connor, officers go by what’s called the Graham Tests. In simple terms, that is broken down as the following:
1: Severity of the crime
2: If the subject was an immediate threat
3: If the subject was actively trying to escape or evade arrest.
It also adds the question if the officer’s actions where objectively reasonable based off the totality of the circumstances, with the information the officer knew or should have known at the time of the incident. Basically, prior to an officer using force, they must quickly consider the Graham Tests, look at the totality of the circumstance and then make a reasonable, objective decision on what, if any, force should be used.
For example: If someone had committed Armed Robbery (1. Severity of the crime-check) and still had a gun in their hand (2. Immediate threat-check) and they were resisting arrests (3. Actively trying to escape or evade arrest-check), all three boxes would be checked and that would guide you on the level of force you could use. Now, let’s say a female was social distancing, was sitting on bleachers watching a child’s ballgame, while sitting next to her children not bothering anyone and she wasn’t wearing a mask. During the second scenario, it’s difficult to check all three boxes of the Graham Tests to justify using force. The severity of the crime originated as a mask complaint, which she likely wasn’t violating anyway and she didn’t appear to be a danger to anyone. One could argue she was actively trying to escape or evade arrest but the officer also has an obligation to properly identify himself and to explain the issue athand and to try and avoid using force. It’s also good police work to use de-escalation techniques and to conduct an actual investigation, prior to taking action and the officer potentially
endangering children’s welfare. When you apply Graham v Connor and look at the totality of the circumstances involving a women sitting down not bothering anyone, is using force next to children and Tasering her at a children’s football game really the best course of action? It’s hard to come to the conclusion that the Logan Ohio Police Officer acted in an objectively reasonable manner and didn’t have any other options. The very best case scenario for Logan Ohio PD, is their officer’s actions were awful but lawful, which I’m skeptical about.
To provide more insight on use of force, all progressive police departments have what’s called a use of force continuum that helps guide officer’s actions. Typically, officers need only select a level of force that is within the range of “objectively reasonable” options. Officers must rely on training, experience and an assessment of the situation to decide an appropriate level of force to be applied. An example and current use of force continuum involves levels of control (Officer) and levels of resistance (Subject):
Levels of Control
A: Officer Presence
B: Verbal Direction (including de-escalation attempts)
C: Empty hand: Soft empty hand designed to control passive or defensive individuals
D: Hard empty hand
E: Intermediate Weapons (Taser-Baton-OC)
F: Lethal Force
Levels of Resistance
A: Psychological Intimidation
B: Passive Resistance
C: Verbal Non-Compliance
D: Defensive Resistance (Simply pulling away from the officer)
E: Active Aggression
F: Aggravated Agression (lethal force is included here)
In the video when you see the Logan Ohio Police Officer standing over the female, it appears as if he is wearing a magnetic Body Worn Camera (BWC) holder but isn’t wearing a BWC. I haven’t been able to confirm this, but it appeared to be an Axon BWC holder. I have reached out to the police department to get answers regarding this, ironically they haven’t responded. I did however locate where that police department put together a request for proposal to obtain Body Worn Cameras and In Car Cameras in 2018 so I’m guessing my observation in the video might be accurate. It’s likely either the officer had a BWC on or he had the camera holder and he
neglected to put on the actual camera. So it makes one wonder where the footage is and/or why the police officer removed his camera or failed to put one on? After all, isn’t the Logan City Ohio Police Department transparent to the public they serve?
At one point in the video, you see the SRO remove his mask and his backup officer wasn’t even wearing one so I’m assuming they are immune to the mandate and don’t care about the image they portray by forcing others to do what they themselves refuse to. You watch what appears to be a frustrated police officer attempt to physically restrain a much smaller woman who was sitting down, while bumping into her children. It’s painfully apparent the department is deficient in training because the Logan City Ohio Police Officer couldn’t gain control over a much smaller
female (who was sitting down) who was asking over and over to be explained what was going on, he had to rely on a Less-Lethal Taser which is usually the step immediately prior to lethal force. Tasers are called less-lethal because their intent isn’t to be lethal but they can be. Is this really objectively reasonable?
As a professional police officer and a use of force instructor, I’m appalled by this officer’s actions. I think it’s highly probably this department will have poor record keeping, will likely have severe training deficiencies and quite possibly will have had received complaints on this officer for use of force issues in the past.
How does this pertain to you?
If it doesn’t bother you that we are being forced to wear a mask for a virus that’s over 99% survivable (see the CDC for proof) for the majority of Americans, it should bother you that an officer of the law who took an oath to protect your rights and freedoms, engages in violence and Tasers a woman while she sits peacefully next to her children at a ballgame. I see him as a soldier against freedoms instead of for. Not to mention the amount of children who witnessed his pathetic attempt at trying to control a small female but more importantly, what image did he portray as a school resource officer who supposed to build relationships with our youth.
We as police officers should be striving to build trust with the public, not violate it.
Questions we should demand answers for:
1: What is the Logan Ohio Police Departments BWC policy? Did he violate the policy?
2: What is the department’s use of force and use of force training requirement policy?
3: What is the department’s less-lethal weapon policy?
4: If the officer was wearing his BWC, why has the footage not been released?
5: Does the department have a defensive tactics program and was that SRO current on all training pertaining to defensive tactics and less-lethal weapons?
6: Has the officer received de-escalation of force training?
7: Does the School Resource Officer (SRO) have any use of force complaints or any disciplinary actions towards him involving women?
8: Was the reason the SRO contacted the female due to a mask complaint?
9: Does the city have a mask ordinance and has the city made any other mask ordinance arrests prior to this one?
10: Had that officer and that female ever had an interaction with one another before?
11: Did the female have a medical exemption and did she relay that to the officer or did he care to ask?
12: Was the female inquiring as to why the officer was taking such actions and did he take the time to thoroughly answer her questions.
If any of you live in the Logan Ohio area, I would suggest you FOIA any and all BWC and In- Car Camera footage from that specific officer. I would also suggest you FOIA, his training records, the departments pertinent use of force policies, along with any use of force reports completed by that officer. If you obtain this information and need some additional guidance on
what to do with it, feel free to get a hold of me.
I would also love to hear your opinion on if you believe this officer’s actions were objectively reasonable. Feel free to contact me at Twitter: @OldGloryFighter.