Impact Tool Legalities



Impact tool legalities can ultimately determine whether your agency can, would or should add this tool to your duty belt...so do politics and public perceptions. At the end of the day, it still comes down to the employer's legal responsibility to provide adequate tools and training to employees they place or allow to be in harm's way.

Clear as mud right?? ;-)

Not! If putting employees in harm's way were the only criteria then "bouncers" would all be issued some form of baton and I seriously doubt we'll ever see that happen. Nor would most sane people want to see this occur.

So, how would a reasonable and prudent person determine that their agency or department requires impact tools and training? You would, of course, study "parallel industries" and reverse the question. Examine what other groups, similar to yours, do. Then ask if it is reasonable to expect your people to operate without impact tool options.

If your people are frequently being assaulted and injured, or having to injure their attackers to protect their own well being, then you can make a business case for needing these types of tools and training. Remember too that the law says you can't step in if you could have stepped out. Make sure that your people have adequate training in 'customer relations' and other verbal and non-verbal de-escalation skills before contemplating issuing batons.

All right, so your people "walk the walk and talk the talk". You're satisfied that they'll do things right and you still see the need for impact tools. Well, assuming yours is a civilian agency, now you're going to have to show your business case to your local Chief of Police. Provide assurances that you will issue batons to each employee only after they pass an acceptable training course, taught by a credible instructor and your plans and provisions for those employees who fail to pass this training course and testing.

Otherwise your people will be carrying an impact tool, a.k.a. 'a weapon' (a weapon is anything used or intended to be used as a weapon) and fair game for every police officer they encounter. Carrying 'concealed' would only result in 'concealed weapons' charges. Yeah! Legalities, legalities..but remember, these 'rules' almost all came about after somebody screwed something up and they are meant to prevent further issues and illegalities.

One would think my stating the obvious to be unnecessary but I frequently receive inquiries from people wanting me to provide 'baton training for my staff' - nothing else! No academics. No intervention training. No subject controls. Absolutely no intermediary skills development of any kind. No credible instructor will agree to this.

The proper approach is to do your study/needs analysis, build your business case, find a credible instructor with an acceptable course and include course and testing criteria, make your presentation to your local chief of police, and seek their approval, even if you never get their actual blessings.

If he/she agrees that you've shown a need for impact tool training and issue to your staff, they'll send a letter to your company and an internal memo to their department. Now your legal.

If you've done it right and failed to get approval, find out why you're being refused and if the reasons are sound, correct your plans as needed. If the reasons are not sound, turn the whole thing over to your lawyer, who will send a nice letter to the chief of police. That may get you the approval, but it's an antagonistic approach, so please don't start with this. Consider it an option only when normal channels fail and only if your business case is sound.

Impact Tool Use
Legal Authorities

The Criminal Code authority to use as much force as is reasonably necessary to protect yourself or others is definitely not carte blanc permission for our citizenry to carry weapons, except where properly authorized and required. The same Code provides consequences for any deemed excess use of force. The ongoing attempts to provide balance in our legalities is what protects all of us from the idiots and criminal elements.

With regard to impact tools, if you are a security agency in Canada you are going to have to check the laws in your province(s) of operation and ensure company compliance with all such legalities.

Under Ontario's new Private Investigators and Security Guards Act the relevant regulations are well laid out. They include license 'endorsements' and requirements for the security company and the client/employer. General approvals apparently will not be the Ontario norm. Other provinces have, or will have similar legislations.

Getting approval under such legislations will require following the same general approach I gave already, except the approval will be sought from and granted, refused or rescinded by the licensing body, instead of local police chiefs. Yes, I did say rescinded in that last sentence. In cases where abuses occur, or companies gain ill repute, the authorization to carry and use impact tools will be withdrawn.

Regardless of the nature of their employment, users must understand the position of impact tools in the use of force continuum as this will often be used to determine the legalities or illegalities of baton use.

All batons are termed 'hard intermediate weapons' and are an option for use only within their specific, intended niche. In their reporting and at court, users will have to be able to articulate the totality of the incident, impacting factors, their reasons for selecting their baton as an appropriate force option and the reason they did not select another option.

How the user carries and even draws the tool will also be factors. Ordinarily a clearly visible carry will be required. There is a line between an aggressive draw and deployment to de-escalate a situation and using a baton to intimidate. The one is 'legal use' the other assault. If in doubt, don't do it.

Appropriate targeting is another essential component of lawful use. In normal applications, targeting should be clear and intended to temporarily incapacitate. Only in life or death situations should targeting indicate any intention to result in permanent harm or death of the subject. If the impact tool application is ineffective, and this sometimes is the case, then the user should know the legalities involved and choose accordingly.

The basic legalities of impact tool use require you to disengage or select another control option whenever possible. Change your targeting or use your tool for grappling only if these options were included in your training and you are confident in your skills.


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