The Law Association is supporting the Commissioner of Police’s assertion that police officers can exercise the right to use deadly force in self defence when fired upon by members of the public.
In a statement, it added that police officers can also act pre-emptively in self defence where such an attack is imminent as officers do not have to wait for the first shot to be fired or first blow to be struck.
However, it is warning that the law does not bestow blanket authorization on police officers to exercise a shoot to kill policy. The Association emphasized that the use of deadly force must be proportionate to the threat posed to the officer.
In its statement, it asserted that just as police officers are entitled to be protected from threats to their lives, so too are members of the public entitled to be protected from trigger-happy officers.
It added that while the law seeks to balance these competing interests, the Police Commissioner must also seek to ensure that that balance is maintained.
Commissioner of Police’s Response
In response to the release by the Council, Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith said that the continuous statements by those with little law enforcement training and little to no interaction with the use of a firearm, may very well cause one of his officers to have that one second hesitation when confronted with hostile fire, hence I would continue to advise all officers to ignore these individuals and bodies, and do what you are trained to do.
In a release he said that the views by those relevant bodies, many who are versed and qualified in the field, including the TTPS Social and Welfare Association, the PCA, the relevant Police Heads, firearms and range experts, have all stated that my comments are accurate, and the general public also supports this stance, and only those who may be either sympathetic to criminals or simply do not understand the use of force policy, continue to state otherwise.
He said the Law Association in its release fully agreed with his statements of the Police officer having the right to use deadly force under the law. However, their statement went on to advise that the law does not bestow on police officers authorization of a shoot to kill policy.
He stated that he was confused on the relevance of such a comment, other than to cause questions to be raised and confusion, because at no time has anyone stated that the police has any such blanket authorization.
He disclosed that while he fully respects and recognizes that the Law Association has a public duty to advise on matters of law this duty must also be balanced with their other duties, particularly, their duty to promote, maintain and support the administration of justice and the rule of law.
President of the Police Welfare Association on Deadly Force
Meanwhile President of the Police Welfare Association Acting ACP Michael Seales says that deadly force can come in many forms.
Speaking with News Power Now this morning he stated once a police officer feels that his life is being threatened, whether or not the assailant has a weapon, then he has to do what he can to preserve his life and the lives of others.
He said that different circumstances can present themselves where an officer may be forced to use deadly force to subdue or stop attacker.