Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Counties seek to reduce risk from law-enforcement shootings, in-custody deaths

My grandfather, W.D. Henson, happened to be the first president of the Texas Association of Counties, so I enjoy checking in on the TAC once in a while, if only out of familial nostalgia, and this morning was rewarded with these timely articles from their County magazine which merit Grits readers' attention:
Moreover, check out these breakout sessions at an upcoming Texas Association of Counties risk management conference in Galveston:
Use of Force and Legal Issues
Speakers: Mr. Todd Brown, TI Training LE, LLC
Mr. Jack Ryan, Public Agency Training Council
Moderator: Mr. Darren Jackson, Law Enforcement Consultant, TAC
Community disturbances and allegations of excessive use of force by law enforcement personnel are a constant risk exposure for all law enforcement agencies. Two of the best forms of defense against these allegations include strong policies and training. During this session the participants will learn about available resources to TAC RMP members participating in the Law Enforcement Liability Program to help mitigate the risk exposure. These include the model policy service offered by the Public Agency Training Council and a new Resistance Response Training Simulator.

The Ferguson Effect: Law Enforcement Use of Force in a Post-Ferguson World
Speaker: Mr. Tom Brandt, Director, Fanning Harper Martinson Brandt & Kutchin, P.C.
Moderator: Mr. Stan Lewiecki, Claims Attorney, TAC
On Aug. 9, 2014, a 28-year-old police officer made a decision that would forever change his life and would soon become a watershed event for the entire country – he shot and killed an unarmed black teenager. The officer was Darren Wilson. The teenager was Michael Brown. The town was Ferguson, Mo. This session will explore the climate that surrounds the use of force by law enforcement since that tragic day in Ferguson. This session will focus on practical approaches to defending law enforcement officers who are accused of violating the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Body-Worn Cameras
Speaker: Mr. Jack Ryan, Public Agency Training Council
Moderator: Mr. Darren Jackson, Law Enforcement Consultant, TAC
This training will review the current Texas state law (Senate Bill 158) pertaining to body-worn cameras. The presentation will cover how this law affects policies and procedures, and how custom and practices must follow policy, procedures and training.

Defending In-Custody Deaths – Litigation Under the New Media Microscope
Speakers: Mr. Larry Simmons, Principal, Germer Attorneys at Law
Mr. Stan Lewiecki, Claims Attorney, TAC
Ms. Debbie Bonner, Claims Attorney, TAC
This session aims to educate TAC RMP members on recent developments regarding county jails and jail staff in-custody legal duties, managing in-custody risks and liabilities, media scrutiny and defending in-custody medical care and death claims.  

Handling Our Mentally Ill in Our Texas County Jails
Speakers: Mr. Robert Davis, Attorney, Flowers & Davis, PLLC
Hon. Maxey Cerliano, Gregg County Sheriff
Hon. Dennis Wilson, Limestone County Sheriff
Moderator: Mr. James MacMillan, Law Enforcement Consultant, TAC
The speakers will discuss the issue of handling the mentally ill in our county jails throughout Texas. This session will focus, in part, on the liability and exposure that counties across the state face in dealing with mentally ill offenders. The presenters will also discuss the best methods to try to avoid liability, the present status of the law, the relationships between state and county agencies in dealing with the mentally ill and possible legislative actions during the next legislative session. The presenters will also highlight the need to develop close working relationships between sheriffs, county judges, prosecutors, health care providers, and mental health and mental retardation organizations. The presenters will give a short synopsis of each of these areas and plan to devote half the session to answering attendees’ questions.
Grits can't afford to attend, regrettably, but I wish somebody would cover it. How local governments can mitigate the risk of police shootings, in-custody deaths and violating  the rights of the mentally ill are significant areas of interest for your correspondent. I know the conference is really about mitigating LIABILITY, not necessarily reducing the frequency of those problems. But the interests of insurance carriers coincide with reformers on many of these questions more than is frequently realized.

Grits was also interested to learn about the "model policy service offered by the Public Agency Training Council" for TAC " members participating in the Law Enforcement Liability Program." If the function of the policies are "to help mitigate the risk exposure," then they have an incentive to be promoting best practices to minimize the likelihood of unnecessary use of force. There have been recent suggestions from the Black Lives Matter movement and the Police Executive Research Forum on use of force policy best practices, so the content of such policies is presently disputed territory. It would be a particularly clever and potentially effective twist if reformers were able to enlist insurance carriers and risk managers as allies on that score.

1 comment:

Bruce Hall said...

Great article! Glad to have read your post. Thank you so much for sharing!