Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Open Season

Police Chiefs Group Bolsters Policy on Suicide Bombers

By Sari Horwitz Washington Post Staff Writer Thursday, August 4, 2005

The International Association of Chiefs of Police, which represents the heads of police departments in the United States and across the world, has issued new guidelines saying that officers who confront a suicide bomber should shoot the suspect in the head.

The recommendations, the first from a major police organization to deal with the realities of a post-Sept. 11 world, take a more aggressive posture than typical lethal-force guidelines. The guidelines were published July 8 -- about two weeks before the London police, acting on a similar policy, fatally shot an innocent Brazilian seven times in the head because they mistook him for a suicide bomber.

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U.S. police officers and federal agents typically have been authorized to use deadly force if lives are in imminent danger. But since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, the definition of imminent danger has changed, prompting law enforcement officials to rethink the rules of engagement.
"There is not a responsible chief or head of a law enforcement agency in this country who isn't now pondering the dilemma a suicide bomber presents to their officers," said U.S. Capitol Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer, who became the first chief in the nation to adopt a shoot-to-kill policy if his officers are confronted with a suicide bomber.

After the July 7 attacks on the London transit system by suicide bombers, the international police chiefs organization produced a detailed training guide for dealing with suicide bombers for its 20,000 law enforcement members. It recommends that if an officer needs to use lethal force to stop someone who fits a certain behavioral profile, the officer should "aim for the head" to kill the person instantly and prevent the setting off of a bomb if one is strapped to the person's chest.

The police organization's behavioral profile says such a person might exhibit "multiple anomalies," including wearing a heavy coat or jacket in warm weather or carrying a briefcase, duffle bag or backpack with protrusions or visible wires. The person might display nervousness, an unwillingness to make eye contact or excessive sweating. There might be chemical burns on the clothing or stains on the hands. The person might mumble prayers or be "pacing back and forth in front of a venue."

The police group's guidelines also say the threat to officers does not have to be "imminent," as police training traditionally teaches. Officers do not have to wait until a suspected bomber makes a move, another traditional requirement for police to use deadly force. An officer just needs to have a "reasonable basis" to believe that the suspect can detonate a bomb, the guidelines say.

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"I really empathize with the British authorities," said Gainer, who is responsible for protecting 535 members of Congress, their staff members and visitors to the U.S. Capitol. "It's a Hobson's choice. How do you control someone you think has a suicide belt on? But what are the consequences of shooting someone, who, because of behavioral profiles, looks and acts like a suicide bomber but turns out isn't?"


"The London situation where an innocent man was shot and killed was based on Israeli procedure, and I don't think that we want to be replicating the actions of a foreign government engaged in a brutal occupation of another people," said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "It sends the wrong message to the Muslim world."
In contrast to the national shoot-to-kill policies of Israel and Britain, American use-of-force orders are set by each of the nation's 18,000 law enforcement agencies.

A number of high-profile shootings in the past decade, including that of Amadou Diallo, who was shot 41 times in 1999 by New York police officers, highlighted the abuse of lethal force by out-of-control officers and the deadly mistakes that can be made by fearful or reckless police.


But now, in the case of a suicide bomber, the international police organization says that tactic would be "inappropriate." According to the group's training guidelines, a bullet could hit an explosive device and detonate it. The bullet also might wound the bomber, who could then detonate an explosive vest. In addition, some explosives -- such as smokeless powder and triacetone triperoxide, or TATP, which apparently was used in the London bombings -- are sensitive to heat, shock and friction, according to the training document.

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"You need to get him dead as quick as possible," said Timoney, the Miami police chief. "The easiest way to do that is a head shot. That's the only way to guarantee. It's not something you relish. But if you shot him in the upper torso, that person would be able to make movements and make sure the bomb, if he had it, could go off. A body shot very seldom kills instantly."


Well, well, well. Now, THIS is interesting.

I wonder if the IACP has ever heard of a dead man switch? Nifty little thingamajigger; when the bomber's hand relaxes (something a head shot may cause), the trigger is released and the bomb does what a bomb does. Boom.

I expect all kinds of weirdness now, especially here in Florida where Our Leader's oleaginous brother John Ellis "Jeb" Bush and the obliging Legislature have modified the Laws of Florida to accomodate the Redneck/NRA Axis of Idiocy. Now it won't just be possible to bust a cap on someone who's threatening you; police will be able to practice their target shooting doing headshots on people. And, of course, you KNOW who'll they'll be using as targets.


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