COMMENTARY: Sworn Officers and Duty to Protect.
By: Charles G. Slepian, Esq. Founder, The Foreseeable Risk Analysis Center.
After the shock of Pan Am flt.103 exploding over Lockerbee, Scotland in 1988, the United States was put on notice that Islamic terrorism had declared war on America, and that commercial aviation was its leading target. In the aftermath of this horrific slaughter, in which all 269 aboard a Boeing 747, mostly American college students on their way to New York’s Kennedy Airport from London’s Heathrow were killed in the sky at 30,000 ft. and debris from the airliner was spread over the little village of Lockerbie claiming 11 residents in their beds and raising the death toll to 270 victims, murdered by Libyan terrorists. This attack was followed by a torrent of promises from the United States and elsewhere that the perpetrators would pay for their crimes and that long promised improvements in commercial aviation security would be put in place to protect airports, airliners and the public from future acts of this kind.
The Federal Air Marshal Service will carefully review the circumstances under which its officer(s) discharged his weapon at a passenger claiming to have a bomb on board an airliner preparing to get under way. Every law enforcement agency faced with a shooting by an officer conducts an in-depth investigation to determine not only whether the conduct was lawful but also how it might be improved in the future. Police agencies and their members as a rule do not take the killing of a suspect lightly regardless of the circumstances and at its conclusion they will issue a report of their findings.
Many jurisdictions have adopted policies relating to use of force issues. In general, many of these jurisdictions have instituted a “Use of Force Continuum”. The continuum has many uses ranging from a teaching item in classrooms, a guide for force escalation, and to serve as an aid in documenting the actions of the “Threat”.
Speaking from personal experience as a former deep undercover officer in the New York City Police Department I submit that the most effective, and ultimately least intrusive method for the general population to endure in order to prevent a repetition of the September 2001 attack, is through infiltration of groups likely to be involved in such acts.