POLICY AND TRAINING
Winston Franklin Allen Jr.
Saint Leo University
USE OF DEADLY FORCE AND LESS LETHAL POLICY AND TRAINING
One of the most difficult decisions a law enforcement officer may have to make is the decision to use deadly force. Our society places a high value on human life and no matter the circumstance; the taking of a human life is frowned upon. Today’s law enforcement officer has been placed under a microscope and every action, word, comment and expression is scrutinized by the public and the media. When the situation dictates the taking of a human life by a law enforcement officer in the line of duty even more emphasis and examination falls upon the officer and the department. Fortunately, because of advancements in technology and training, today’s officer is better trained and afforded a variety of less lethal options when confronted with a use of deadly force situation. Recent events and court decisions has caused departments to re-examine existing policies and training practice in an effort to become more compliant with national trends involving the use of deadly force and less lethal confrontations. A recent event within my own department has given rise to policy revision and training methods. No matter how clear cut a situation involving deadly force may seem there will always be doubt and skepticism relating to the actions of the officer and the position of the department. Due to this recent event, our department will take a closer look at the use of deadly force policy, the equipment utilized, the cost associated with the equipment, less lethal options and the training necessary to reduce liability and insure that department in is line with the national trend in use of force decisions and training. The overall goal of the department is to insure the safety of the officers, reduce and or prevent issues of liability and preserve human life to the utmost degree unless circumstances compel the officer to use deadly force. However, through an aggressive training program and a well-defined departmental policy our officers will have a variety of options made available to them in which less than lethal tools can be utilized and thus, reduce the number of deadly force USE OF DEADLY FORCE AND LESS LETHAL POLICY AND TRAINING
encounters that our officers may experience. By making these options available to the officers in the department they will have more less lethal options rather than having to resort to deadly force in violent encounters. Training will play a very important role in the success of this organizational plan because the proper training in the techniques of deployment will give the officer greater confidence and balance when confronted with a violent situation.
In order to address recent issues within the department relating to use of force and the use of less than lethal force, a more comprehensive and detailed training program should be evaluated and updated. Training is the critical component in the reduction of liability for a law enforcement agency. A good training program can withstand any judicial test of competency and receive validation from the courts. By establishing an aggressive training program that is update on the latest techniques and legal decisions an agency insulates itself from liability and forces the plaintiff to reach a higher standard of the burden of proof. A high quality training program does not completely eliminate exposure from lawsuits but it greatly reduces departmental liability. In the design and creation of a training policy one of the first areas that must be addressed is use of deadly force. Deadly force has been defined by the State of Georgia as when a law enforcement officer has reasonable belief that a person is about to receive physical harm and that the offender poses a threat to life while is the possession of an instrument that can inflict death. (Staff,...