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Expert: Lack of experience led to mistakes in Tavares arrest

November 30, 2012 - 1:31 PM

Police mishandling of the Buddy Tavares arrest occurred largely because of the youth and inexperience of the officers involved, an expert witness in police use of force said.

Sgt. Jeremy Lane testified Friday morning that one of the problems with Tavares' Jan. 7, 2011 arrest—in which RCMP Const. Geoff Mantler was videotaped kicking Tavares in the head—was that no officer on the scene had more than three years, 10 months of experience in the field. Lane testified in Mantler's assault trial that he would favour having at least one officer with five years of time in law enforcement at the arrest scene.
"The fact that you have some very junior officers with very limited experience probably played into some of the tactical errors," he said.
Lane, a member of the Abbotsford Police Department who teaches police procedures in high-tension arrests, said the rarity of the types of these types of arrests that an officer sees in his career plays a factor in his response. In his 25 years as a peace officer, Lane said, he has performed 25 to 30 comparable arrests. Someone with single-digit years of experience would have few opportunities and likely would respond incorrectly, he said.
Lane said it was largely because of Mantler's inexperience that he saw himself with no other options than to subdue Tavares with a kick to the head. First, he didn't wait for backup after having pulled over Tavares' pickup. Then he erred in approaching Tavares' truck with no cover other than his protective vest. Then he was less than clear and concise in his commands to Tavares. Then he allowed himself to be too close to Tavares once Tavares climbed out of the truck, which didn't allow enough time for Mantler to react correctly, had Tavares fled or charged or drawn a weapon.
Lane's list went on, but the inference was clear. Mantler had little experience from which to draw. And because of that, his perceptions of what was happening and his estimate of ways to remedy the situation were undeveloped and faulty.
All of Mantler's mistakes before the kick, Lane testified, led to the kick itself.  
"Const. Mantler shouldn't have been in that position," Lane said, "but he was. And if he perceives a threat, you've got to strike as hard as you can to end a confrontation." 
The trial continues this afternoon. InfoTel will update with details.
John Sleeper



News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2012
InfoTel News Ltd

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