High-profile fatal police shootings across the nation have prompted a re-evaluation of police policies on lethal force and whether officers are adequately trained to neutralize threats, particularly from moving vehicles, without pulling their triggers, reports the Miami Herald. Some local shootings have followed traffic stops, others have involved moving vehicles, or what police call ”vehicle attacks,” and others have involved mentally unstable individuals or suspects who are armed or believed to be armed.
Miami’s policy is one of the nation’s most restrictive. It discourages officers from placing themselves or others in harm’s way when approaching, pursuing or stopping a motor vehicle or armed subject and prohibits officers from discharging firearms at or from a moving vehicle unless deadly force is being used against the police officer or another person by means other than the moving vehicle. Police Chief John Timoney says that if an officer has time to pull a weapon, he or she should have time to move out of harm’s way. Ft. Lauderdale hired criminologist Geoffrey Alpert to review its use of force policy but cancelled the deal after learning that he is testifying in a lawsuit against the city. Alpert says officers shold not shoot at moving vehicles: ”If the officer is successful and hits the driver, then there’s a 50-50 chance that the person is going to slump over the wheel and you now have a potentially guided missle that can go anywhere. There’s [also] a chance of an innocent person being shot.”