(Global) Police agree on shoot-to-kill rules
Told to watch for nervousness, excessive sweating
AP | August 4, 2005
An international organization representing the heads of police departments across the world has issued new guidelines recommending that officers who confront a suicide bomber should shoot the suspect in the head, the Washington Post reported.
The recommendations by the International Association of Chiefs of Police take a more aggressive posture than typical lethal-force guidelines for police departments, the newspaper reported on its website late Wednesday. It said the guidelines were published July 8 -- before the London police, acting on a similar policy, on July 22 fatally shot a Brazilian in the head because they mistook him for a suicide bomber.
In the United States, the National Bomb Squad Commanders Advisory Board is developing the first national guidelines for responding to suicide bombers, the newspaper said.
"There is not a responsible chief or head of a law enforcement agency in this country who isn't now pondering the dilemma a suicide bomber presents to their officers," U.S. Capitol Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer told the Post. Chief Gainer's force is responsible for protecting members of Congress, their staff members and visitors to the U.S. Capitol.
Last year, Chief Gainer became the first U.S. police chief to adopt a shoot-to-kill policy if his officers confront a suspected suicide bomber who is unco-operative, and other U.S. law enforcement agencies are considering adopting a similar policy, the newspaper said.
"I can guarantee you that if we have, God forbid, a suicide bomber in a big city in the United States, 'shoot to kill' will be the inevitable policy," the Post quoted Miami Police Chief John F. Timoney as saying. "It's not a policy we choose lightly, but it's the only policy."
Police in Israel and Britain, which have a long history of dealing with terrorist attacks, have adopted a national policy of shooting a suspected suicide bomber in the head to prevent detonation of a bomb.
The International Association of Chiefs of Police, responding to the July 7 attacks on three London subways and a double-decker bus that killed 52 people, produced a training guide for dealing with suicide bombers for its 20,000 members, the newspaper said.
The Post said the guidelines recommend that if an officer needs to use lethal force to stop someone who fits a certain behavioural profile, the officer should "aim for the head" to kill the person instantly and prevent the setting off of a bomb.
The association's behavioural profile says a suicide bombing suspect might exhibit "multiple anomalies," including wearing a heavy coat or jacket in warm weather or carrying a briefcase, duffel bag or backpack with protrusions or visible wires, the newspaper said.
The profile also said suspects may display such characteristics as nervousness, an unwillingness to make eye contact, excessive sweating, or mumbling prayers or "pacing back and forth in front of a venue," the newspaper said.
The Post said the police chiefs' guidelines say an officer does not have to wait until a suspected bomber makes a move in order to use deadly force, but just needs to have a "reasonable basis" to believe that the suspect can detonate a bomb.
"The police standard operating procedure of addressing a suspect and telling them to drop their weapon and put their hands up or freeze is not going to work with a suicide bomber," Bruce Hoffman, a terrorist expert at the Rand Corp., told the Post. "You're signing your own death warrant if you do that."
Police group oks shooting suicide bombers in head
Reuters | August 4, 2005
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An international organization representing police chiefs has broadened its policy for the use of deadly force by telling officers to shoot suspected suicide bombers in the head, The Washington Post reported on Thursday.
The International Association of Chiefs of Police issued new guidelines to its 20,000 members about two weeks before British police shot dead a Brazilian electrician because they mistook him for a suicide bomber, the newspaper said.
U.S. law enforcement officers typically had been authorized previously to use deadly force if lives were in imminent danger, the newspaper said.
Jean Charles de Menezes, 27, was shot repeatedly in the head by plainclothes officers on July 22 at a London underground station as police hunted suspects in a failed bombing attack on the city transit system a day earlier.
The Washington Post said the international police chiefs group produced a new training guide for confronting suicide bomber suspects after the July 7 attacks on three London underground trains and a bus that killed at least 56 people, including four bombers.
According to the newspaper, the guide recommends that if lethal force is needed to stop someone who fits a certain behavioral profile, the officer should "aim for the head." The intent is to kill the suspect instantly so the person could not set off a bomb if one is strapped to the person's chest, the newspaper said.
Among signs to look for listed in the police organization's behavioral profile are wearing a heavy coat in warm weather, carrying a backpack with protrusions or visible wires, nervousness, excessive sweating or an unwillingness to make eye contact, the Post said.
According to the newspaper, the new guidelines also say the threat does not have to be "imminent" -- as in traditional police training -- an officer just needs to have a "reasonable basis" for believing a suspect can detonate a bomb.