Sustainable resource and human rights advocate
Possible new terms and tactics for Maine State Police Officers to help ensure public and their own safety and to reduce the possibility of both police and civilian shootings in obvious shooting situations...
Barricaded Person - One who has isolated him/herself in a protected position, usually with a lethal weapon, and is threatening harm to self and others.
Containment - Withdrawing from a person with such a lethal weapon and forming a tactical perimeter to assure safety of self and of citizens by limiting the movements of an individual with a weapon, and to provide for a crisis negotiator.
Crisis Negotiation - Time permitting, engaging the services of a crisis negotiator who is trained in managing a temporary period of disorganization and high emotion through discussion with a goal of peaceful resolution. It is a communication process where the negotiator uses the contrast of the state police being able to hurt the individual with a genuine desire by the state police to help. This is the most powerful tool of influence which underlies skillful listening and analysis of motives by the state police.
Crisis Intervention - A set of active listening skills designed to slow incidents down, engage subjects in problem-solving and defuse the crises of the barricaded person peacefully.
Successful Negotiation - A conclusion to a negotiated incident where negotiation was used to preserve life and minimize human injuries or casualties.
Third Party Intermediary - A person, usually a civilian, who is used to communicate to the barricaded person in hopes of facilitating a peaceful resolution. Often the intermediary is a person who has a positive relationship with the barricaded person.
This is the opposite of a "shoot first, ask questions and solve problems later" policy.
This seems to be a consistent pattern. The Maine AG has, again, ruled another Maine state police trooper was justified in shooting and wounding a suspect in this state. This ruling is no surprise to anyone given the Maine AG's obvious conflict of interest.
We need a change in the way these so-called police shooting investigations are conducted...one that is not fraught with such an obvious conflict of interest such as when the state's top state law enforcement officer, the Maine AG, has the power to investigate the behavior of the Maine State Police and to make rulings that negatively impact the claims of victims of possible state police abuse.
The State of Maine has an obligation to ensure the rights of individuals within the state are protected from state police abuse. When the state fails to do so, victims of State Police abuse and violence can resort to civil law suits and remedies as the most effective avenue for redress.
Although no substitute for prosecutions of state police officers who commit crimes, civil cases are easier to pursue as an evidentiary matter because they use a lower standard of proof than is required in criminal cases: a preponderance of the evidence, rather than beyond a reasonable doubt.
Some reforms in police practices have stemmed from costly lawsuits or the threat of lawsuits; most importantly, however, civil remedies have been able to provide monetary relief to individual victims. But, unlike criminal cases and disciplinary actions against officers, which are pursued by the government, most civil cases must be shouldered by the abuse victim plaintiff. But, victims do have strong legal support.
Under 42 U.S. Code, section 1983, the relevant federal civil statute, individuals may file lawsuits against the offending officer, department or jurisdiction. It states:
Any person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities security by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress....
Section 1983 actions are intended to fulfill at least two basic purposes in the police abuse context. First, such actions are designed to compensate victims of police abuse, usually through an award of compensatory damages. Second, such actions are intended to make state police officers accountable to constitutionally required standards of conduct...like the Constitutional right not to be deprived of life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness.
Lawsuits are an important, and unfortunate, development, since police abuse experts point to poor background investigations, screening, and training as a key contributor to the recruitment of individuals who become abusive as state police or local police officers.
The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 included a new statute under which the Department of Justice may enforce the constitutional rights of individuals abused by state police officers.
Under the new statute, the Justice Department may sue for declaratory and equitable relief if any governmental authority or person acting on behalf of any governmental authority engages in "a pattern or practice of conduct by law enforcement officers...that deprives persons of rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States."
Police abuse experts recommend giving federal authorities power to bring civil actions against state police departments engaging in a pattern or practice of misconduct.
In April 1997, the Justice Department, relying on this new authority, reached a consent decree to force reforms in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's police force and in August 1997 reached a consent decree with the Steubenville, Ohio police force.
The Justice Department has disclosed that it is closely monitoring state police departments to decide whether to proceed with formal injunctive actions to end abuses committed or tolerated by state police departments.
The leadership of the Maine state police seems and it's members should not benefit from an AG office that is incapable of conducting a proper investigation nor the public interest compromised or individual rights abused or put at risk.
In my view, it is improper to have the state's top law enforcement officer, the Maine Attorney General, investigate and pronounce obviously self-serving "rulings" in police shootings such as the one "reported" here.
Instead, Mainers would benefit from a disinterested third party, such as the United States Justice Department, investigating and ruling on such matters whenever Maine state police shooting behavior threatened or denied an individual's Constitutional right.
When the Maine AG consistently rules a Maine state trooper was or is justified in shooting anyone in this state, it begs the question of whether the police and the AG are always right, or whether the police and AG are, at times, wrong, but that that gives way to a "shoot to kill" mentality and an illegal policy, which is both possible and unacceptable in a democratic society.
In my view, the investigator needs investigating on this issue for everyone's safety...and not just the so-called "public safety".
August 20, 2013
Rep. Henry Bear
Maine House of Representatives
41 Elm Street
Houlton, ME 04730
Dear Representative Bear:
I am writing in response to your recent inquiry about the prospects for a Maliseet casino located in Houlton, Maine. I was intrigued by your inquiry, because I have visited East Grand Lake as a fisherman on many occasions, and I typically make at least one visit to Houlton each trip to resupply and have dinner. Consequently, I have some personal familiarity with the area.
What intrigued me about your inquiry was that the very first time I visited Houlton, one of my first thoughts was “what a great location for a casino in Maine!” The location has many potential advantages:
1. It is located a significant distance from the state’s two existing casinos and, consequently, it would not be in direct competition with them. Therefore, it presents an opportunity to actually grow the Maine gaming market, rather than dilute and redistribute it among competing facilities.
2. It is located at the center of a population center (est. 250,000) sufficient to support a moderate sized casino.
3. It is a port of entry on the Canadian border with significant potential to capture Canadian residents as a sizeable component of its customer base.
4. It is a port of entry at the end of Interstate 95, which generates a considerable volume of commercial truck traffic and, therefore, it has the potential to capture additional out-of-state visitors as is done by many Tribal casinos in the western states located adjacent to Interstate highways.
5. It is already a tourist destination for hunting, fishing, camping, and boating so there is at least a limited potential to capture some of these visitors, who may want to take an occasional break from outdoor activities, particularly when traveling to Houlton.
Obviously, it is not possible to offer an estimate of a Houlton casino’s potential revenues without the requisite analysis, but you have made what seems to be a promising proposal. I would be interested in following up on our conversation with yourself or others in the future if you so desire.
Dr. Clyde W. Barrow
Director, Center for Policy Analysis
University of Massachusettes Dartmouth
North Dartmouth, MA 02747