Force use gray area

Published 9:33 am Thursday, October 22, 2015

For two weeks, Lawrence County followed the trial of three corrections officers who found themselves in legal hot water over what was previously alleged as unreasonable use of force on an inmate.

While the three were acquitted of any criminal wrongdoing, the fact that those officers were arrested and tried in a federal court, leaving a jury to decide what was reasonable, just goes to show that justification for use of force is not simply a black and white issue. Unfortunately, there is a lot of gray area.

In an effort to clear up the lines between right and wrong, the Lawrence County Prosecutor’s Office hosted a two-day training in the judgment of use of force, as well as search and seizure.

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Instructors from the Ohio Peace Officers Training Academy, the body from which all police officers must receive their training, taught the seminars at Ohio University Southern this week and about 40 officers — from nearly every law enforcement agency in the county — showed up to learn.

Law enforcement officers must be held to the highest standards where use of force is concerned. They are not and should not be allowed to use any sort of force they chose in unnecessary situations and training is paramount in making sure officers know exactly what escalation of force is appropriate and in what situations.

In the cases where officers use force against a suspect, this will ensure those gray lines are more black and white.