dUm's Penance - Advanced Rules of Engagement

The Rules of Engagement outlined in the Operatives Handbook might appear clear and straightforward. Unfortunately, the reality is less so. The standard RoE fails to properly consider the dynamic and stressful circumstances, which preclude a deadly force incident. It suggests operatives should place themselves, fellow teammates, civilians, and hostages in greater risk by waiting for an armed suspect to point their weapon at someone before being engaged. The RoE minimizes the priority of self-preservation. Instead, it demands operatives place themselves in "greater than reasonable" danger to try to save the life of an individual who has already accepted the risk of death to achieve their goal.

In addition, the standard rules of engagement fail to provide operatives with proper guidance to address the many different possible deadly confrontations a team might face during a mission. It does not consider the risks unarmed or fleeing suspects might pose to element and the public at large. If an operative errors in a decision, they risk being punished by Internal Affairs.

In short, the Rules of Engagement, which is discussed in the Operatives Handbook appears to have been written from the safety of hindsight. It fails to consider the operatives side of the equation. Those who obey the RoE more than likely feel unprotected and exposed to greater than reasonable danger of serious bodily harm or death.

This article will hopefully serve as a blueprint for a more clear and reasonable rule of engagement for operatives.


Tactical Employment of Force

The goal of various methods of force is to bring unruly individuals who might pose a threat to themselves and/or others under control. Those who pose a clear and immediate threat and refuses to comply with lawful commands, and exhausted lesser means of violence, may be engaged with deadly force to protect the lives of others.

Verbal Force

Unrestricted force involves using approved language to order individuals to comply with the operative’s demands.

Less Than Lethal Force

Involves employing a class of weapons and ammo that is designed to force unruly individuals to comply with lawful commands by inflicting temporary pain, immobilization, and shock. This class includes, but is not limited to the following Stun and Gas Grenades: convinces individuals to comply by causing pain, difficulty breathing, eye irritation, and limited immobilization. It is usually an unrestricted method of force, and is not deadly.

Flashbangs: designed to stun & temporarily impair an individual’s ability to hear and see. It also has a very powerful shock value. It is usually an unrestricted method of force, and is not deadly. However, operatives should employ with caution because its effects are universal.

LTL Rounds: special ammunition that can be fired from a variety of firearms. It can inflict pain on a specific target without affecting those nearby. The rounds can be lethal in some cases. Therefore, employment should be considered properly. However, any serious injury or death is not intended.

Deadly Force

Employment of any method of force that will more than likely cause serious bodily harm or death.

Reasonable Timeframe

Refers to the amount of time an operative should wait before employing lethal force. The time allows a suspect to go through the thought process and make the decision as to what course of action to take. This can be dangerous. Operatives must be prepared to react quickly to either influence a suspect’s decision or prevent serious bodily harm to themselves and other persons.

The reasonable timeframe is not concrete. Well-trained individuals might proceed through the thought process faster than that not as prepared. The equation below is basic. It allots a specific amount of time for each step in the thought process.

0.5-1.5sec. to assess the situation and compile a list of options
0.5-1.0sec. to decide on a proper course of action
1.0-1.5sec. to execute the determined course of action
2.0-3.0sec. should be added if flashbangs have been employed
8.0-10.0sec. should be added if grenades are employed

When a flashbang is employed prior to a grenade, their allotted time is included in the stated grenades allotted time.

Probable Cause, reason to believe or a reasonable belief The primary deciding factor when considering whether or not to employ deadly force. Operatives must reasonably conclude that the point at issue is probably true. The reasonableness of a belief or decision must be viewed from the perspective of the operative on the scene, who may often be forced to make split-second decisions in circumstances that are tense, unpredictable, and rapidly evolving. Reasonableness cannot be accurately assessed from the safe vantage point of hindsight

Concerning the Employment of Deadly Force

An operative may use deadly force if there is reason to believe they, or other persons are in "imminent" danger of serious bodily harm or death if they fail to take said action. In addition, all other safe alternatives must be either is exhausted or not feasible. The operative does not have to place themselves, the suspect, and others in unreasonable danger before employing deadly force. The operative should consider the following factors in determining whether to use deadly force:

Subjects’ likelihood to use deadly force on operatives and the public at large unless stopped

Knowledge whether the subject is more likely to surrender or be captured if the operative employs lesser force or no force at all (very difficult to determine)

Subjects’ known capabilities, access to weapons, and proper cover

The presence of other persons who might be at risk of serious bodily harm or death

Nature of subjects’ criminal conduct and/or danger they might pose to operatives and the public

The term "imminent" has a broader meaning than "immediate" or "instantaneous." The concept should be understood as being elastic. It involves a period of time dependent on the circumstances. It is not a fixed point of time. This means a suspect can pose an imminent threat even if they are not pointing a weapon at an operative at the moment. This also allows operatives to use deadly force against suspects who are within easy reach of a weapon, or running for cover carrying a weapon. The operative might also choose to engage a suspect if they have reason to believe a suspect is fleeing toward a location where a weapon might be available.

Concerning Fleeing Suspects

An operative may use deadly force against a fleeing suspect for the following two primary reasons:

Has probable reason to believe the suspect has committed a felony involving the infliction or threatened infliction of serious physical injury or death

Has probable reason to believe the escape of the suspect would pose an imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm to the operative of other persons

An operative cannot employ deadly force simply because pursuing the suspect is not convenient, or using said force will support an arrest.

Concerning Less than Lethal Options

If the operative believes a less than lethal force option will succeed and is available without drastically increasing risk to him or herself, other operatives, and the public, it must be used. However, in any after action review, the situation should be considered from the operative’s perspective at that specific time, under the specific conditions.

Operatives should always give a suspect a reasonable chance to submit to authorities before employ deadly force. The first step in this process is to provide compliance instructions. Operatives must do all provide the suspect with an opportunity to surrender. However, this cannot always be the case. If employing said action could itself place the operative in unreasonable risk of serious bodily harm or death, it must be avoided.

Operatives should refrain from shooting to wound. The areas that exist on the body that pose minimum risk of death are small and usually difficult to hit. It also does little damage to the suspect. They are usually still capable of functioning and posing a threat to operatives and others. In addition, the effects of the injury could merely serve to encourage aggression from the suspect. (They are dying, in pain, and angry. One could easily decide not to die alone.) Shooting to injure could place the operative in greater danger of injury or death. Therefore it is not encouraged.

Warning shots are not advised either. In order for them to be effective, you must aim very close to the suspect’s head. This is very dangerous.
In the case of shooting to wound and warning shots, they are only permissible under similar circumstances as with deadly force. Therefore, these actions are not effective, and place the operative and other persons in greater danger of physical harm or death.

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Published on: 2002-05-15 (67 reads)