Friday, June 24, 2005

In Ann Arbor, Michigan, Law Enforcement Officer Keith Robins was disciplined for his actions related to an investigation of an armed robbery. Two males and two females were suspected of robbing a Shell gas station, and one boy was described as having red hair and red pants. Robins was searching the surrounding area approximately 3.2 miles away from the incident when he found a group of ten people that included one male matching the red hair, red pants description.

Robins had spoken to another officer just minutes earlier to discuss how to handle the potential suspects. They decided “that the best way to handle the situation was probably to advise them to all get on the ground, possibly at gunpoint, if the circumstances warranted,” Robins wrote.

The group stopped by Robins included seven male students and three teachers from Stone School who were out for a walk. Robins detained this group until backup could arrive to confirm their identities and whether or not they were involved in the armed robbery. They were released after back-up officers arrived and it was determined the students were not the suspects.

Officer Keith Robins has returned to active duty. He was placed on desk duty and paid administrative leave during the investigation of the April 11 incident.

Police Chief Daniel Oates remarked “I’m proud to say that the officer involved recognized his mistake and offered to go to the school to apologize to the students and staff who were affected; for various reasons, that did not occur, but it says a lot about our officer that he extended that offer.”

School district spokeswoman Liz Margolis said officials were informed of the conclusion of the internal investigation. She said school staff members and parents jointly decided not to accept Robins’ offer to personally apologize, but said police officials had visited the school twice after the incident to talk to students.

“The school has moved beyond this, so they felt they didn’t want to bring it up again,” Margolis said. “The police department has kept up good communication with the school through the entire investigative process.”

According to Ann Arbor Police Department documents there are defined levels of “Use of Force” for differing circumstances. When determining which level is needed officers “responses should be based upon:

  • Physical size, strength and weaponry of the person(s) compared to the officer(s)
  • Nature of the encounter
  • Actions of the person(s)
  • Exigent conditions (i.e., availability of backup)”

The force level used by the officer in drawing his gun was a level one response, the lowest possible response level, described as: “Officer Presence/Verbal Direction: … Uniformed presence or identification as a police officer, verbal direction, or use of restraint devices (i.e. compliant handcuffing).” Levels two through five responses consist of the use of batons; empty hand techniques (pressure points, striking, take downs); impact weapons; pepper spray; and deadly force.

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This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page and notes page for more details.