Militarization of Police

Newspaper Lead of the Month: "Orange County deputies will now be trained to weigh the risk to the public before opening fire."


Great news from the Orlando Sentinel: Cops in Orange County, Florida, will be trained to think before firing 130 rounds in the parking lot of an apartment complex, as they did in January 2010 while trying to apprehend/obliterate car-jacking suspect Torey Breedlove after he rammed into a police cruiser: 

The public-safety recommendation, several on the nine-member [Citizens Advisoriy Committee] said, stemmed from the Breedlove case. Deputies fired more than 130 bullets at Breedlove, a car-theft suspect, in the parking lot of the Alta Westgate apartment complex Jan. 5, 2010.

Deputies' bullets didn't just hit their target, but also sprayed across the area, striking an occupied apartment building.

"That is not going to happen anymore," said committee member Andrew J. Jarrell. "The bad publicity of that was extremely bad" for the Sheriff's Office and the gunfire dangerous for the public, he said.

The new policy instructs deputies, when considering using force, to think about "the risk to the public, including but not limited to, whether the deputy's use of force creates a substantial risk to the safety of the public, exceeding the danger" created by allowing the suspect to "remain at large."

Other recommendations instruct deputies to "use reasonable means" to apprehend suspects before they get behind the wheel and to consider firing at a vehicle only "as a last resort to protect the deputy or another from an imminent threat."

Bad publicity indeed!

The hasty adoption of the committee's recommendation coincides with the Orange County Sheriff Department's fight against the creation of an independent review board with subpoena power (such as that wielded by Miami's Civilian Investigative Panel). Currently the Citizens Advisory Committee can only review cases that the OC Sheriff's office instructs it to review. A new proposal would create a permanent and independent committee that could review whatever it wanted: 

The Sheriff's Office opposes the proposal, arguing that it is redundant and could potentially be expensive for taxpayers.

The measure has been recommended by local attorney and charter-board member Earnest DeLoach, who argues that the Sheriff's Office should be reviewed by an entity that's completely independent.

"By all accounts, [the CAC] appears to be doing exactly what it is that [Demings] said it will do," DeLoach said. But the board can only review what the sheriff asks it to review.

"It's a little disturbing that the sheriff gets to choose what they'll review," DeLoach said. He argues the proposed Citizen Review Board, if adopted into the county charter, would be more permanent — and less subject to the whims of future sheriffs.

Fun fact from Orlando Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell's 2010 reporting on the Breedlove case: All nine deputies involved in the killing of Breedlove had fired on suspects before.