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Use of Force and the Media: They Finally Get It Right | U.S. PATRIOT NEWS & REVIEWS

Use of Force and the Media: They Finally Get It Right

The use of force by police has become a hot topic for the media, to the point that ANY use of force is often scrutinized and analyzed to the point that many officers fear everything they do will be deemed inappropriate by some reporter or hired expert. So, it was with some reluctance that I clicked on a recent link for a report of an officer who used his baton to subdue a suspect in Connecticut. But, I did click on the link and I also got a pleasant surprise – the local media finally got it right.

It all started on a late April evening when an officer with the Hartford Connecticut Police Department was dispatched to the local Burger King for a report of loitering. When the officer arrived, he encountered a 17 yr. old male, the reported loiterer, and asked him to leave. Eventually, the officer and the suspect became involved in a physical confrontation, during which the officer is placed in a headlock by the suspect. After breaking free, the officer, who later stated he believed he was losing consciousness, attempted to subdue the suspect with OC spray and then with baton strikes to his legs and finally took him into custody. Like many police interactions, this was all caught on video by a bystander and was eventually provided to the local television news as another example of police brutality. But that is far from the conclusion; the news reporter, and interviewed citizens, came to.

Arrested CuffsUnlike many members of the media, which simply view any use of force as brutality, the reporter in this case viewed the situation as what it really was – a brutal and unwarranted attack on a law enforcement officer. The reporter, who is visibly upset after viewing the video, repeatedly states how the officer was there at the request of restaurant management and how the same location has been the site of repeated violence in the past. He then plays the video and explains how the officer asked the suspect to leave several times, attempted to simply issue a ticket for loitering and finally was forced to use physical force, not because the officer wanted to but because the teen refused to comply and even went as far as trying to choke the officer with a headlock. The report concluded by interviewing several citizens who were shown the same video and each react with similar outrage at the teen’s behavior; further evidence that, without a predetermination of guilt by the media, average citizens will also see the violence against police as outrageous.

It is not too often that you will see a report about a justified use of force, because a cop being right does not sell newspapers or generate the desired online interest. But, in this case the reporter cared more about the truth than sensationalizing the story to generate more interest. Ironically, an honest report of the situation has resulted in what more than likely would have been a local story becoming a story with national attention.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Tom Burrell
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