There is no way for me to emphasize more the requirement of proportionality in governmental to citizen relations.
I have twin 7-year-old girls. They misbehave (frequently, unfortunately). If one of them grabbed a paring knife and came out at me to try and stab me I would simply grab their wrist, take the knife away, and tell them not to do that. Maybe some sort of punishment would be involved. Hell, I don’t believe in violence against your own children, but I have yelled at all 4 of my children that I have reduced them all to tears (not at the same time, I think). I’ve calmed down a lot, but it seems like even just a stern talking to gets huge reactions out of my kids like when I used to yell.
So, a little 8-year-old girl has a paring knife. Paring knives are not very long. Paring knives would not be my choice to try to kill someone, try to defend myself, or attempt to do anything other than skin a potato or an apple.
The police claim that they could not get the paring knife from the girl and therefore they decided to shoot her with a stun gun.
Now, one police officer should have been able to easily grab the little girls arm, exert a very modest amount of pressure and the girl would have dropped the knife. I know this because I have had to get my children at different times to drop something they were determined to continue holding.
There were 4 police officers present and they “couldn’t” obtain the paring knife from the girl and the only thing they could do was shoot her with a stun gun.
Four of them, really?
Back though to the beginning of this article.
Proportionality. When the police are dealing with anyone their actions have to be proportional to the alleged crime being committed. The little girl had not harmed any of them with the knife. There aren’t any details as to why the police were called; however, unless she had harmed someone with the knife (significantly, too) the police have a duty, a responsibility to protect all citizens. This little girl has not been convicted of any crime when the police arrived. The police’s job is not to punish. The police’s job is to subdue and capture. Proportionally, if someone comes after you with a paring knife then you should not be using any more force than a paring knife to subdue them. If that someone is a little girl then you know what, the force in one arm of me is the proportional equivalent of all the damage should could do to me – including her with a paring knife.
What are the long-term consequences to this kind of behavior on the part of the police? Think now, that everyone that knows this little girl, is related to this little girl, and the little girl herself will NEVER trust the police again. They aren’t going to want to be in some athletic league sponsored by the police. They aren’t going to call the police when they need help because they are AFRAID OF WHAT THE POLICE MIGHT DO.
The police are here to protect us, who is going to protect us from them?