Q&A WITH KEVIN MCMAHILL
A COP’S TOUGHEST CALL: IF AND WHEN TO USE FORCE TO APPREHEND A SUSPECT
The following was excerpted from a webinar the Badger Institute sponsored on use-of-force and policecommunity relations. Badger Institute President Mike Nichols spoke to Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Undersheriff Kevin McMahill about de-escalation, training police officers to quickly process ways to reduce the need to use force in making arrests without compromising public safety and enforcement of the law. McMahill addresses so-called sanctity of life policies, which spell out a department’s commitment to protecting human life in the daily course of policing. A full recording of the webinar with Nichols, McMahill and Jon Ponder, founder of Hope for Prisoners, is available here.
Nichols: Can you talk a little bit about whether police can do a better job of de-escalating and whether it’s a training issue or not?
McMahill: Yeah, so listen. Not every instance can be deescalated. That just has to be said from the very beginning. But that being said, I’ll tell you that in 2010, metro, we had shot 25 people, and two of those were very high-profile incidents that, quite frankly, they did not need to be shot. And so, we underwent a comprehensive reform process with the Department of Justice COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) office.
Prior to 2010, we didn’t have some very key things when it comes to training. Things like a sanctity of life statement in your use of force. If you’re not, from the very get-go, teaching that life matters the most to your people that have the ability to take life, then where are you really at?