Write a paper answering the six questions that follow the Case Study.
Elaborate on your answers and explain your reasoning.
Format your paper consistent with APA guidelines.
Racin’ Ray’s Wild Day
Members of the Pineville County Sheriff’s Department have been involved in several vehicle pursuits within the past year. One such incident resulted in the death of a 14-year-old juvenile who crashed during a pursuit while he was joyriding in his parents’ car. This tragedy sparked a massive public outcry and criticism of the police department for using excessive force. A lawsuit is pending against the department and individual officers involved in the pursuit. You, the sheriff, immediately changed and tightened the department’s policy regarding pursuits, now requiring that a supervisor cancel any pursuit that does not involve a violent felony crime or other circumstances
that would justify the danger and potential liability. All officers have been trained in the new policy.
A separate policy prohibits the firing of warning shots unless “circumstances warrant.” It is now about 9:00 P.M. and Deputy Raymond “Racin’ Ray” Ripley is patrolling in an industrial park in his sector. Deputy Ripley, having graduated from the police academy and completed field training about 6 months ago, engages in vehicle and foot pursuits at every opportunity; also, unknown to the sheriff and other supervisors, he occasionally goes home and picks up his pet German shepherd dog for use in late-night building checks; he also has a Taser stun device in the trunk of his patrol car (he has not been trained in or authorized to use either of these less lethal tools). He was providing an extra patrol as a result of reports of vandalism and theft of building materials in that area of the county. He believes that after 8:00 P.M., no one should have any reason to be in “his” patrol sector. A parked vehicle attracts his attention because private vehicles are not normally parked in the area at this time. As Ripley approaches the vehicle with his cruiser’s lights off and spotlight on, he notices the brake lights on the vehicle flash on and off. Ripley immediately gets out of his vehicle for a better view and calls Dispatch for backup assistance in the event that there
is a burglary or theft in progress. At this point, the vehicle takes off at a high speed in Ripley’s direction.
The deputy, now out of his vehicle, opens the door and lets his dog out of the car as well; seeing the vehicle coming at him from about 30 yards away, Ripley fires a warning shot into the ground. When it is about 15 yards away, the vehicle veers away from him and then leaves at a high rate of speed. As the escaping vehicle passes by, Ripley yells for the driver to halt, then takes out his Taser and fires, striking the side of the vehicle. Ripley then takes off in pursuit of the vehicle, and radios Dispatch concerning his observations and his present pursuit. The shift commander—a
patrol lieutenant—hears this radio transmission (as do you, the sheriff, while at home monitoring calls on a police scanner).
Questions for Discussion
1. What are the central issues involved?
2. Is the deputy in compliance with the use-of-force policy? Defend your answer.
3. Should the lieutenant end Ripley’s pursuit? Explain.
4. Should the deputy have fired warning shots under these circumstances? Why or why not?
5. Assume that the people who were in the parked vehicle lodge a complaint because of Ripley’s actions with the dog, the warning shot, and the Taser; what kinds of policies and procedures normally cover Ripley’s actions? Would your Internal Affairs Unit find that the deputy was at fault with any of them? Which of the deputy’s actions do you as sheriff feel should result in disciplinary action against Ripley? Why or why not?
- Are additional policies needed? Explain your answers.
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