Perceptions of Use of Force
Law enforcement officers face extenuating circumstances on a daily basis. Their job is to isolate and de-escalate circumstances that pose a threat and are beyond the control of citizens in their community. There are times officers may need to resort to force if necessary to gain control of an escalating situation. Basic law enforcement training introduces officers to the force options available.
Use of force is the amount of effort required by police to compel compliance by an unwilling subject (United States Department of Justice, 2004). The methods used to gain compliance range from verbal commands to the use of deadly force. The use of force can have extensive consequences, both good and bad, for the public, department, and officers involved.
Few events in law enforcement attract the attention of the media, political establishment, and police administration more than a use of force incident, specifically an officer-involved shooting. Media coverage molds the perception of the surrounding communities. This also influences the perception of officers and department staff, before and after incidents. Officer Perception
Interviews conducted with officers who have been involved in shootings have revealed that while many were well trained for the event, they often were not prepared for the investigation afterward (Pinizzotto, Davis, & Miller, 2006). Some believed investigations centered on finding something the officers did wrong so they could be charged with a crime or a violation of departmental policy. Others felt that the investigations were for the protection of the agency and not necessarily the officers involved (Bohrer & Chaney, 2010). Officers’ actions can be influenced by their experience with use of force incidents and knowledge of what has happened to fellow officers in similar situations. The Public’s Perception
Perceptions by the public of officer use of force incidents usually are as wide and...
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