The IMIM is a visual aid that helps the officer envision an event and explain why certain intervention methods were employed. This is very helpful when an officer must articulate his or her actions, such as before a judicial body. The model is also a teaching aid used for training officers. The IMIM is not in itself policy or law, and should not be considered as a justification model on its own.
The police in Canada are responsible for maintaining public order and safety; this authority is legislated by the Parliament of Canada and legislatures of each province. Authority to protect public safety is found under both federal and provincial statutes.
Law without an enforcement mechanism has little meaning. In this regard, peace officers are from time to time required to use various levels of intervention in their law enforcement role. When members of the public are caught up in circumstances which are beyond their control, they often call police as the public agency to restore control.
A peace officer is expected to explain the intervention strategies he or she chooses to manage an incident. The explanation must take into account the totality of the situation, including the officer’s perceptions, assessment of situational factors present, and subject behaviour, all of which form the risk assessment. This explanation, referred to as legal articulation is the process by which an officer can explain clearly, concisely, and effectively the events that occurred before, during, and after an intervention. It is important to remember that this explanation is based on each officer’s individual perceptions at the time of the event, and what those perceptions meant to the officer. Officers will not necessarily be judged by what they believe. Their intervention will be measured against what a reasonable, trained, prudent peace officer would do faced with a similar set of circumstances.
The IMIM is the framework by which RCMP officers assess and manage risk through justifiable and reasonable intervention. It is not a "use of force continuum". It does not suggest a linear path of use of force. Rather, it helps officers choose the appropriate intervention option, based on the subject’s behavior and the totality of the situation. It promotes continuous risk assessment and centers on the RCMP problem solving model known as CAPRA (CAPRA stands for Clients / Acquire & Analyze / Partnerships / Response /Assess). The IMIM also helps officers identify the subject's behavior and then select the best option to control the situation effectively.
The IMIM builds from the actual situation outward. The circular representation of the graphic is designed to reflect the rapidly evolving and dynamic nature of police work. Unlike a continuum or linear pathway, the IMIM does not lead the officer through a stepped progression of intervention options. The officer instead selects the most appropriate option based on the totality of the situation.
Six basic principles underlie the IMIM:
The process of assessing an incident involves:
Careful consideration of possible factors within each of the above categories assists the officer in forming a risk assessment, and responding to situations, and in explaining to others how a particular situation was perceived, assessed, and responded to.
The centre of the graphic depicts an officer. This officer uses the CAPRA problem solving model to assist in responding to an incident. The situational factors are a key element within the problem solving process
The situation is recognized as a constantly evolving event, represented by circular arrows, which requires continual risk assessment and evaluation by the officer(s) involved. The process of continuous risk assessment also helps to explain how a behaviour (and intervention option) can change from cooperative to assaultive (or from communication to lethal force) in a split second without passing through any other behaviour or intervention options.
The area adjacent to the centre circle contains the various subject behaviour categories including cooperative, passive resistant, active resistant, assaultive, and grievous bodily harm or death.
Perception and tactical considerations are interrelated and are therefore contained in the same ring (officer presence) on the model. Factors that the officer brings to the situation, that are unique to the individual officer interact with both situational factors and behaviour categories to determine how an officer may perceive or assess the situation. Further, the officer’s perception of a situation may affect his/her assessment and, in turn his/her tactical considerations.
The outer ring of the graphic represents the officer’s intervention options. These options range from officer presence to communication skills, physical control techniques, intermediate weapons, lethal force, and weapons of opportunity.
The outermost ring, tactical repositioning, represents the possibility that the officer may change or alter his or her position in an effort to gain a tactical advantage. This may occur at any point during the incident.
Though officer presence, communication, and tactical repositioning are not physical intervention options, they are included to illustrate the range of intervention options that may be used to control and influence subject behaviour.
The officer and problem solving model have been described above. The actual graphic for the IMIM is attached as Appendix A. The CAPRA problem solving model is attached as Appendix C.
As stated previously, the situational factors may change throughout an incident. This fact is represented by circular arrows that illustrate the requirement for a continual risk assessment and evaluation by the officer(s) involved.
As soon as an officer becomes aware of an incident, the risk assessment process begins. Situational factors are a key component of this risk assessment. There are a number of things that may be considered as situational factors. Each of these may influence the officer’s risk assessment.
It should be noted that some of these factors may fall under more than one category (i.e. situation, subject behaviour, or perception/tactical considerations). Additionally, the following lists are not exhaustive. They are simply common factors that an officer can expect to consider when making their decisions. Such factors may assist or may hinder effecting control. These will influence the choice of intervention options.
There will be times when environmental conditions may affect the officer’s assessment of the situation.
The number of officers versus the number of subjects will affect the officer’s assessment of the situation:
The officer’s perception of a subject’s various characteristics will affect his or her assessment of the situation:
Prior knowledge may affect the officer’s assessment of the situation. He or she may be aware of the subject’s criminal history, reputation, or the officer may have had prior contacts with the subject.
The concept of time and distance refers to those conditions that determine whether an officer must respond immediately or whether a delayed response may be employed. For example, in situations where there is a pressing threat to public safety, an immediate response may be unavoidable. In other situations, conditions may allow the officer to delay his or her response. For example, the availability of cover, the imminent arrival of backup, or simply being able to increase the distance between the officer and the subject may allow the officer to reduce the threat and delay responding until conditions are more favourable. The officer must address the following time and distance factors as part of the risk assessment process.
A subject may provide cues to his or her intentions. The following list includes physical behaviours displayed by a subject that have been known to precede an attack on an officer.
Central to the assessment process is the behaviour of the subject. The IMIM identifies five different categories of subject behaviour in the circle adjacent to the situational factors. The gradual blending of colours in this circle reflects the fact that the boundaries between categories may be difficult to distinguish. It is often difficult to differentiate between categories of behaviour. Where a subject falls in these categories is in part dependent upon the officer’s perception. The following describes each of the five categories of subject behaviour:
The subject responds appropriately to the officer’s presence, communication and control.
The subject refuses, with little or no physical action, to cooperate with the officer’s lawful direction. This can assume the form of a verbal refusal or consciously contrived physical inactivity. For example, some subjects will go limp and become dead weight.
The subject uses non-assaultive physical action to resist, or while resisting an officer’s lawful direction. Examples would include pulling away to prevent or escape control, or overt movements such as walking away from an officer. Running away is another example of active resistance.
The subject attempts to apply, or applies force to any person; attempts or threatens by an act or gesture, to apply force to another person, if he/she has, or causes that other person to believe upon reasonable grounds that he/she has the present ability to effect his/her purpose. Examples include kicking and punching, but may also include aggressive body language that signals the intent to assault.
The subject exhibits actions that the officer reasonably believes are intended to, or likely to cause grievous bodily harm or death to any person. Examples include assaults with a knife, stick or firearm, or actions that would result in serious injury to an officer or member of the public.
Perception and Tactical Considerations are two separate factors that may affect the officer’s overall assessment. Because they are viewed as interrelated, they are graphically represented in the same area on the model. They should be thought of as a group of conditions that mediate between the inner two circles and the responses available to the officer.
The mediating effect of the Perception and Tactical Considerations circle explains why two officers may respond differently to the same situation and subject. This is because tactical considerations and perceptions may vary significantly from officer to officer and/or agency to agency. Two officers, both faced with the same tactical considerations may, because they possess different personal traits, or have dissimilar agency policies or guidelines, assess the situation differently and therefore respond differently. Each officer’s perception will directly impact on their own assessment and subsequent selection of tactical considerations and/or their own intervention options.
How an officer sees or perceives a situation is, in part, a function of the personal characteristics he or she brings to the situation. These personal characteristics affect the officer’s beliefs concerning his or her ability to deal with the situation. For various reasons, one officer may be confident in his or her ability to deal with the situation and the resulting assessment will reflect this fact. In contrast to this, another officer, for equally legitimate reasons, may feel the situation to be more threatening and demanding of a different response. The following list includes factors unique to the individual officer which interact with situational factors and behaviour categories to affect how the officer perceives and, ultimately assesses and responds to a situation.
Factors that may be unique to the individual officer include but are not limited to:
An officer’s assessment of a situation may lead to one of the following tactical considerations. Conversely, these same factors may impact on an officer’s assessment of a situation.
The situational factors, subject’s behaviour, the officer’s perception and tactical considerations drive the risk assessmentprocess. Based on the overall assessment, the officer must develop a plan that involves selecting what he or she feels to be an appropriate response. The following section discusses the categories of intervention options available to the officer.
In the graphic's outer rings, there are five intervention options. They range from the simple presence of the officer to lethal force. Unlike the representation of the subject’s behaviour there is a great deal of overlap amongst these options. For example, the Communication circle overlaps with Physical Control, Intermediate Weapons and the Lethal Force overlap indicates that the officer may use several of these options at the same time.
There is an approximate correspondence between the graphic's depiction of a subject’s behaviours and the intervention options available to the officer. Because each officer has different personal characteristics that affect his or her perception and because each situation presents different tactical considerations, the correspondence between the subject’s behaviour and that of the officer can never be precise. How reasonable one considers an officer’s actions can be judged only after one considers the complex interplay amongst the situational factors, the subject’s behaviour, the officer’s perceptions and tactical considerations.
The intervention options may be used alone or in combination to enable the officer to control the situation. The premise of the graphic is that an officer’s perception and tactical considerations are specific to the situation. The dynamic nature of the situation requires continual assessment; therefore, the intervention strategy selected may change at any point.
The following provides a brief discussion of the five intervention options available to an officer.
While not strictly an intervention option, the simple presence of an officer can affect both the subject and the situation. Visible signs of authority such as uniforms and marked police cars can change a subject’s behaviour.
An officer can use verbal and non-verbal communication to control and/or resolve the situation.
The model identifies two levels of physical control: soft and hard. In general, physical control means any physical technique used to control the subject that does not involve the use of a weapon.
Soft techniques may be utilized to cause distraction in order to facilitate the application of a control technique. Distraction techniques include but are not limited to open hand strikes and pressure points. Control techniques include escorting and/or restraining techniques, joint locks and non-resistant handcuffing which have a lower probability of causing injury.
Hard techniques are intended to stop a subject’s behaviour or to allow application of a control technique and have a higher probability of causing injury. They may include empty hand strikes such as punches and kicks. Vascular Neck Restraint (Carotid Control) is also a hard technique.
This intervention option involves the use of a less-lethal weapon. Less-lethal weapons are those whose primary use is not intended to cause serious injury or death. Kinetic energy weapons, aerosols and conducted energy weapons fall within this heading.
This intervention option primarily involves the use of conventional police firearms (duty pistol, shotgun, rifle, patrol rifle etc). The use of these firearms are intended to, or are reasonably likely to cause serious bodily injury or death through ballistic force, i.e., a lead projectile, when facing subject behaviour(s) that may result in Grievous Bodily Harm or Death.
NOTE: Although the options above are intervention options approved for use, when none of these intervention options is available or appropriate, officers may use any reasonable weapon of opportunity to defend themselves or members of the public.
**The primary duty of a peace officer is to preserve and protect life. However, when a situation escalates dangerously, or when the consequence of continued officer intervention seriously increases danger to anyone, the option to tactically reposition may be considered appropriate. It is also recognized that due to insufficient time and distance or the nature of the situation, the option to disengage may be precluded. If the officer determines that the option to disengage is tactically appropriate, the officer may consider disengagement in order to contain and consider other options, such as seek alternative cover, wait for back-up, specialty units, etc.
NOTE: Regardless of the demonstrated behaviour of the subject at the time of the intervention, the ongoing risk assessment may require that the officer’s preparation and/or response be consistent with the overall risk assessment. For example, a situation where a subject is believed to be armed and dangerous based on reasonable grounds, is an indication to responding officers to conduct a high risk arrest and point their firearms at a subject. Even if the subject does as he’s told, the totality of the situation still reflects a high risk situation that must be responded to accordingly.
Assessment of risk and subsequent intervention response cannot be based simply upon a snapshot of subject behaviour, but must take into account all the available information.
While Section 25 of the Criminal Code established protection from liability for a peace officer who, in the course of enforcing the law, finds it necessary to use force, the onus is on the peace officer to justify not only the fact of having used force, but also the degree of force used. The prospect of civil liability also requires the member to bear in mind the notions of negligence and duty of care. A detailed record of all the circumstances surrounding the incident should be kept by the peace officer, in order to document the peace officer's justification and care in using force. The record should include the following:
Despite its length, this list of questions should not be considered exhaustive. It is critical to record in as much detail as possible, as soon as possible after the occurrence of use of force, a full description of the force actually used, and a full description of all the indicators of potential or actual violence which would explain the peace officer's apprehension and justify the resort to force and the degree of force utilized. That is the trade-off in order to benefit from the protection afforded by Section 25 of the Criminal Code.
The IMIM represents the process by which an officer assesses plans and responds to situations that threaten public and officer safety.
The assessment process begins in the centre of the graphic with the situational factors confronting the officer. From there, the assessment process moves outward and addresses the subject’s behaviour and the officers Perceptions and Tactical Considerations. The situational factors and the subject’s behaviour influence the selection of the intervention options available. This is the most important area of the model, because many factors contribute to the totality of the situation. The risk assessment of the officer is based on this totality of situation, and this assessment affects the decision as to which intervention option is necessary. The officer can go directly to any of the intervention options, based upon the situation and assessment of risk they perceive. Based on the officer’s assessment of the conditions represented by these inner circles, the officer selects the intervention options from the model’s outer circle. After the officer chooses an intervention option, the officer must continue their risk assessmentto determine if their actions are appropriate and/or effective or if a new strategy should be selected. What must also be factored into this equation is that often these incidents are tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving. As a result, the officer must frequently make split-second decisions.
The entire process should be seen as dynamic and constantly evolving until the incident is brought under control. Authority to use force separates law enforcement officials from other members of society and the reasonable use of force is central to every officer’s responsibilities. The IMIM guides officers in that duty.
The officer continuously assesses risk and applies the necessary intervention to ensure public and police safety.
The people with who police interact in the delivery of their service and the people for whom that service is delivered.
Direct clients are those you interact with at various points in your service delivery or investigations. These would include callers, complainants, witnesses, victims, those affected by the harm done to victims (e.g., family), suspects, prisoners, and community groups. From a community policing perspective, police are expected not simply to ask how these people can help achieve police objectives. Rather, once we view them as clients, we also ask how we as police can best serve their needs in a manner consistent with public interest.
Indirect clients are those not directly involved in an incident or its investigation but who have an interest in its outcome either because of the way it was handled or because of the association of the incident to similar incidents. They include taxpayers, the public (public interest is captured in our constitution), interest groups (e.g., victims' groups, women's groups, cultural groups), other government agencies or departments whose work may be impacted by your own. These clients may never interact with you personally. They, however, represent the public interest and it is in your interest to understand their concerns if you are to successfully address them. They may send letters to the press. They may use incidents, through the press to draw attention to their concerns. They may represent the public interest to the RCMP as an organization or to other government departments.
Sometimes, indirect clients, such as interest groups, may approach you with a problem which they would like you to assist in resolving. At this point, these would become direct clients as you would be interacting with them directly.
In a sense, police are always serving these "indirect clients" because police represent and serve the law and the public interest values on which the law is based. Thus, the police are serving the people of Canada. What is unique about community policing is that police, in this approach, are taught that the public interest is best understood and served by learning about and working with direct clients, understanding their needs and interests, and those of their community. Sometimes this requires difficult negotiations - particularly when needs and interests appear to be in conflict.
Information including evidence is essential to police work, to the apprehension of suspects, to the fair resolution of incidents through the justice system or alternative means.
Clients, partners, colleagues and libraries, resource centres, information systems are all sources of information.
Anyone within the organization, other government departments or agencies, or the community who can assist you to provide better quality service and more timely service.
Establishing and maintaining partnerships on an ongoing basis will:
Experts within and outside the RCMP: doctors, psychiatrists, social workers, psychologists, scientists, lab technicians, dog specialists, firemen, clergy, colleagues with experience or expertise in a particular area, etc.
Community groups: cultural groups, half way houses, organizations supporting battered women, victims, etc.
Individual citizens: volunteers, individuals who may be privy to particular information.
For every call for assistance or intervention, police have available to them four major types of response strategies:
Assisting the public and referring them to appropriate partners.
Protecting the public, victims, and those affected by their victimization, in partnership with community agencies and experts.
In some cases, it is in the public's best interest, in the pursuit of justice objectives, to enforce the law by laying charges and proceeding through the judicial system so that offenders are held to account.
In other cases you will use discretion; that is, you may judge that enforcement is not in the best interest of those concerned and opt not to proceed through the judicial system.
Preventing incidents (offences, accidents or problems) from occurring or escalating through intervention, proactive problem solving and education.
Invariably, your response will, if it is to address all client needs and interests, include elements of several of the response strategies: service, protection, prevention and enforcement. You will need to assess what your primary responsibility is in terms of how public interest is best served in a particular situation. You will need to recognize how this can change over the course of an investigation or incident. Thus, for example, you may build a strategy that gives first focus to protection, shifts to service and then turns to prevention, and if appropriate enforcement. Response strategies do not necessarily flow out of the definition of a problem. They are built up and modified in action, in consultation and partnership with others.
In a given situation, you must continuously ask: "What is my primary responsibility? What course of action would be in the public's best interest? Which client(s) should get priority at various stages of an incident?
Ongoing monitoring of performance is essential to:
Within the organization, as regions, divisions, detachments, sections, units or as individual members, we are also each other’s internal clients. In this respect, the RCMP maintains its’ own accountability through a process known as the quality assurance process. Quality assurance is a continuous process of internal quality control by a unit commander respecting the degree of compliance with operational, financial, administrative and program responsibilities. In effect, it is the RCMP’s own internal method of implementing the assessment segment of CAPRA, which in turn leads to continuous improvement.