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What are the rules for police use of force?

December 1, 2011
The Maui Weekly

There have been numerous Internet videos showing the reactions of police to demonstrators in communities such as New York, Denver, Seattle, Portland, Oakland, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, etc.

At the moment, the video of the police pepper-spraying seated students at UC Davis, and the photograph of the 84-year-old woman pepper-sprayed in Seattle have gone viral on the Internet.

1.I would like to know what rules the Maui Police Department has in place for officers dealing with unarmed protesters. I would also like to know if the Police Commission has discussed potential problems that could arise on Maui and developed policies about the use of force during demonstrations. Surely it is better to have policies in place in advance, rather than dealing with incidents after they occur.

2.I would also like to know what instructions police officers receive regarding the Constitution and the interpretation of the First Amendment.

3.The courts are beginning to distinguish between the use of force to repel actual attack, and the use of force to compel compliance with orders. Has the Police Commission considered this distinction?

4.What are the rules regarding use of tasers, pepper spray, rubber bullets (if the MPD uses them), batons and dogs? Are there other non-lethal methods used by the MPD?

5. What are the instructions to officers about whether citizens have a constitutional right to photograph or video their actions in a public place?

Sally Raisbeck Wailuku



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