Police use excessive force, ER docs say- What do ER nurses think


Heres the article link. http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20081224/hl_nm/us_police_er;_ylt=AsdEgR5vSvYsZBHgBHfkzcOs0NUE

My take is often as belligerent and uncooperative as they often are when the police have them in the ED I can only imagine how they are when they are being arrested. Having worked EMS as well as ED i can tell you the idiots being arrested often bring a lot of their own troubles on themselves. Yeah there are rouge cops out there, but if you spend a weekend in my ED and crap that come out of this guys and gals mouths you would know they are where they are.


Specializes in Correctional, QA, Geriatrics. Has 39 years experience.

Perhaps some of these ED physicians should do a civilian ride along with the police. It can be quite an eye opener to see in person without any censorship what really goes on. I have done several of these and it gave me an appreciation of just how difficult and dangerous it can be to work as a police officer at times. Subduing someone who has no intention of cooperating with the arrest process is not a time for hesitation or half hearted action. Use of force does not automatically equal excessive force. I believe that many folks do not understand the distinction.


161 Posts

Specializes in CAPA RN, ED RN. Has 45 years experience.

I have never asked my docs about their feelings but the conversation at our place runs around how stupid it is to run from a police dog. Those critters are just waiting to show their skills :). You probably shouldn't try to run from a police officer either. That's when most people come in with scratches from thorns, scrapes or whatever. Charging a police officer will also probably get you tazed or something ;). I really don't have a sense that our docs worry about excessive force. They seem pretty level headed about these people spitting at us and threatening us.

Only one time was I concerned about excessive police force. I looked up just as an officer at our door walking a guy in pushed the guy to the ground. It looked kind of excessive. When the guy got in to see me he was excessively violent himself. It took several of us to manage him. I had a whole different take on the push after personal experience. In fact I admired the officer for keeping whatever happened to the guy to a minimum.

Specializes in ER/ICU/Flight. Has 18 years experience.

I had just read that article on Yahoo a few minutes ago. I agree that most of the time the officers keep it to a minimum and the people getting arrested aren't victims of "mistaken identity". There's nothing that warrants excessive cruelty but like txredheadnurse said, there is a distinction between use of force and excessive use of it.

I have seen both though. I remember an elderly, black man had called 911 and was unable to speak, no one could figure out what was wrong with him. He rightfully became frustrated at not being understood and tried to get a cop's attention by tugging on his sleeve. The cop pushed him against a wall, screamed and yelled at him, threatened to "taze" him, etc. I was thinking "good grief, the man's 78 years old and 100 lbs. lighter than you, just chill already...you're not being threatened" I know that anything can happen and you never know, but his grandkids were nearby and he had been the one who called for help. anyway, it turns out his granddaughter had dropped his Passey-Muir valve down the drain and he wanted a new one.

When the cop (rudely) announced he was leaving, the old man gave him the finger. I laughed out loud. some of my close friends are cops and I have true respect for their job, but that was a case where the cop was a jerk.

On the other hand, I've seen guys that got the fire beat out of 'em and I thought they had probably gotten off easy.


29 Posts

Specializes in ER, OR, ICU, PACU, POCU, QA, DC Planning. Has 33 years experience.

excessive use of force. well, back in detroit here many years ago, a man who was fleeing arrest was finally caught, and it took 6 or 8 officers to wrestle him to the ground. he ended up with a broken leg. he successfully sued the city for excessive violence. in my mind, that fact that it took 6 or 8 big detroit cops to get him down speaks for itself. this was before tazers.

i also have to add that in the level i trauma er i worked in for a while...sometimes the curtain would get pulled by the officers, then the "vic" would get really quiet...then the curtain would open. i have no idea.... :chuckle


2,098 Posts

Cops are trained to deal with crazy people, people on PCP, vile people and everyone else necessary.

I do think MANY cops go to far but I don't think doctors should be the ones making the decision. They can maybe have a say about the condition of the patient or if the patient was in a state to have resisted like cops claim but that's it.

I mean, the cops COULD just stop beating you down and start shooting everyone that resists. :D

I must say though that I have seen cops beat people down for no reason and then nothing happens. Last night on TV though I saw one of those 'The Dumbest Criminals' shows and a guy in a cell beat the bejeesus out of himself and then tried to tell the lawyer the cops did it. Meanwhile the cell was being videotaped. ;)


51 Posts

Specializes in Med/Surg, OB, Home Health/Hospice.

I was a new grad Nurse in a psych hospital when it took 8 cops to bring this gal in, in a straight jack (1975). They busted out all her front teeth in the wrestle. She apparently was on LSD and took an ax to her boyfriend in a bar. He introduced himself to me as "Jesus Christ of Nazereth" when he came to visit her (she apparently missed). We took her out of the jacket and within minutes she had me around the throat. An aide saved my life. I quickley understood why it took 8 cops to bring her in.

My father was an NYPD police officer and I can remember his pshyco stories and the

trips to Bellvue with them. He said that's why a lot of cops are married to nurses. So I concluded that most nurse must NOT think the cops are too excessive. :)


1,714 Posts

One of our residents is a former police officer who became interested in medicine by bringing inmates to the ER.



839 Posts

Specializes in ER,ICU,L+D,OR. Has 25 years experience.

I like this one prisoner who got brought in after he tried to punch out a 130 pound german shepherd police dog. He had over 80 different bite marks all over him. And very little sympathy from us. Trying to be cruel to animals ehh.

ScrappyED, BSN, RN

1 Article; 50 Posts

Specializes in ED, Trauma.

IMHO as a Level1 Trauma RN the cops too often use too much restraint.

Oooops, not being p.c. am I.

Oh, well.

Specializes in Emergency Dept, ICU. Has 11 years experience.

I have seen a few excessive force cases in the ER when the door slamms shut and the officers forget we have a camera in the room that goes to the nsg station, but honestly I can say I've never been bothered by it.


2,098 Posts

This thread has new meaning this year.

While people are discussing whether cops do or don't use excessive force and whether they are or aren't bothered by it we get to see it's consequences.

I'm pretty sure we ALL know what happened in New Orleans AND Oakland. Apparently the ER docs are right. Excessive force IS being used to much.

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