Monday, April 11, 2016


Officers in Tampa Bay Florida are making far too many unnecessary arrests. Proper policing should result in the arrest of a suspect only when the officer has reason to believe that the defendant is either a danger to the community or is likely to fail to appear for court. An arrest may not be unreasonable for investigations of violent crimes such as domestic violence, aggravated battery or aggravated assault.
Making an arrest
is always risky.

It's not unusual for officers to abuse the very process of making an arrest. Often an arrest for nonviolent crimes is an overblown tribute to the arresting officer's ego. The confrontation and resulting confusion of making an arrest places both the officer and the defendant in imminent danger of harm. Many inconsequential incidents snowball rapidly because of an arrest or mere threat of an arrest. Smart officers take a step back before making an arrest decision to unemotionally determine whether the defendant is a threat to the community or a threat to abscond.

Why do officers really make so many needless arrests?Unfortunately officers are often rewarded by their supervisors for making foolish arrest decisions. In fact rising thru the ranks is facilitated by a mentality of "us versus them" rather than by a love of the community they serve with respect for every person in it. Rather than being reprimanded for having a high rate of making arrests the officers are praised as being especially competent or brave. Clearly, it's helpful to have effective leadership that makes it clear to every officer that the number of arrests an officer makes should never be a factor in advancement. In fact the act of making an arrest should be the least performed action of any good officer.

Yet when you look at the statistics it's the same troublesome officers who arrest too often who also make themselves the victim of crimes by arresting defendants for crimes such as Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer or Resisting Arrest with Violence. In fact in most police agencies the majority of police officers are reasonable, looking for the best way to resolve volatile situations without escalating violence. That small percentage of psychologically damaged officers who enjoy arresting and intimidating defendants for nonviolent crimes should be drummed out of policing. 

No wonder Florida jails such as the scandalous jail in Pinellas County, Florida are over-crowded and unsafe. The sheriff should immediately make it clear to every deputy that arrests should be reserved only for those who are violent or when the giving of a notice to appear to a defendant is unlikely to succeed.