MagazineDec 2, 2014
The Forces Of The Law
When the killing of an unarmed black teenager by a white policeman in Ferguson, Missouri, in August sparked sometimes violent protests, the response of police in camouflage gear and armoured vehicles wielding stun grenades and assault rifles seemed more like a combat operation than a public order measure. Some U.S. police departments have recently acquired U.S. military-surplus hardware from wars abroad, but there are many law enforcers around the world whose rules of engagement also allow the use of lethal force with relatively few restrictions. But for every regulation that gives police wide scope to use firearms, there is another code that sharply limits their use. In Italy, police and the paramilitary Carabinieri follow the same guidelines, which say that the use of weapons is allowed only in the line of duty, when it is an "unavoidable necessity to overcome resistance, stop violence, or prevent a [serious] crime", and that the response must be proportionate to the situation.