Thursday, January 20, 2022

Reader Comment – Use of Force Policies

A long time reader and expert on all things related to Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA), Laurie Thomas, left a comment today on my Part 2 post on ‘Armed Security at Chemical Facilities’ about the need for use of force policies and training by any facility that plans to use armed security forces. Laurie is absolutely correct and her full comment is well worth reading. To that comment I would like to add that, while I am not a layer, I feel comfortable providing this small bit of legal advice: “If you are going to employ armed security personnel at your chemical facility, get a lawyer to help you draw up your use of force policy.”

If you are going to allow armed personnel to act on your behalf at your facility, someone is going to try to hold you responsible for any death, injury or damage that results for a discharge of a firearm by such personnel. It will make little difference if you directly employed the person or they were employed by a security company under contract to your company.

And as Laurie says training must accompany any use of force policy. A pristine document, no matter how well written, will not last long as a defense in a lawsuit, if there is not adequate and well documented training conducted about the rules outlined in that policy.

For chemical facilities there is one unique idea that I would like to see added to the standard content of a use of force policy document, a clear description of any areas of the plant where safety issues would be a further constraint on the use of force. This would include areas where toxic inhalation hazard chemicals are stored, or flammable liquids or gasses are routinely handled and thus, a flammable atmosphere might be expected to exist.

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