Police in America’s biggest cities are failing to meet even the most basic international human rights standards governing the use of lethal force, a new study from the University of Chicago has found.
Researchers in the university’s law school put the lethal use-of-force policies of police in the 20 largest US cities under the microscope. They found not a single police department was operating under guidelines that are compliant with the minimum standards laid out under international human rights laws.
Among the failings identified by the law scholars, some police forces violate the requirement that lethal force should only be wielded when facing an immediate threat and as a last resort. Some departments allow deadly responses in cases of “escaping suspects”, “fugitives”, or “prevention of crime” – all scenarios that would be deemed to fall well outside the boundaries set by international law.
In other cities, police guidelines failed to constrain officers to use only as much force as is proportionate to the threat confronting them.
Remarkably, the researchers from the law school’s international human rights clinic discovered that none of the 20 police departments were operating under state laws that were in accord with human rights standards.
America’s biggest police forces lack legality, the study finds, because they are not answerable to human rights compliant laws authorizing the use of lethal force. [Continue reading…]