Discipline and The Rules of Engagement: What Every Parent Needs to Know about the Use of Forc
15. Individuals with Authority
Circle Number 4–where the adults joined the beat-down in front of Gina Herring’s house–morphed into Circle Number 5 when the police arrived. The entry of police is important to the Rules of Engagement because police have the power, the obligation, in fact, to define the situation—or perhaps to re-define the situation—that requires their presence.
Police bring with them also the potential for the use of lethal force. Law enforcement rules for the use of force are pretty well covered under the “[General] Rules of Engagement in the Use of Lethal Force” enumerated above. There is one exception, and the exception is important.
Law enforcement officers are required to assume Rule 1 applies to them. The officer’s badge – some version of protect and serve—make them The Defender. Law enforcement skips straight through to [General] Rule 2, where the defense of others begins.
[Unwritten] Rules for Police Assessment of “Disturbances”
1—Look unperturbed, but always assume the worst.
2—In cases of affray, listen to what participants tell you, but let them know that you must assume they are all equally guilty.
3—With no other guide to decision making, use the blood rule for determining immediate guilt and responsibility: A serious injury will generally bleed, wounds do not heal before photos can be made, photos will indicate the incident was serious and the investigation can begin with the individual who inflicted the wound(s).
4—If there are women involved, go slowly, everyone will appear to be hysterical. Everyone will also be hysterical if someone is deceased. In that case, secure the scene and wait for reinforcements.
5—Send as many people to the hospital as possible. Medical reports always help.
6—Be polite and immediately physically secure anyone who cannot be polite or fails to follow your directions.
7—Remember that the phrase “you are under arrest” is better used in movies than useful on the street. No one will believe they are under arrest unless they hear you read them their Miranda rights. Arrests can come later. Stick to Rule 3 in Police Assessment, above. Blood always makes a safe probable cause.
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16. “…and the Investigation is on-going…”
In the case of the scene the Concord police mopped up in front of Gina Herring’s home in March, 2015, there is a gap in the initial news reports. It is not clear how many onlookers the disturbance had gathered. It is not clear when or if Zay’s mother Monica Bailey arrived before the police departed. It is not even clear who was arrested where and for what.
The arresting process for juveniles in North Carolina differs from the process for adults, with a further complicating factor that juveniles over the age of 16 can be bound over from juvenile court to adult court at the recommendation of juvenile authorities. While police officers can, and do make arrests on the spot, responding officers still may collect information, file reports, and leave the decision about arrest warrants to the discretion of higher ups.
Therefore, as we examine the interaction of participants in Gina Herring’s front yard riot as the action and actors move from Circle Number 4 to Circle Number 5, it is important to note that the widening circles have now moved us from the decisions of the fighters–attackers and defenders—to include the responses and actions of onlookers and responders.