Use of Force: Guidelines & Principles

Topics: Police, Constable, Police officer Pages: 7 (2434 words) Published: April 7, 2013
Use of Force:
Guidelines & Principles

Written by: Thomas R. Mah
Instructor: Roland LaHaye

Use of Force:
Guidelines and Principles
Defining Use of Force2
National Use of Force Framework2
Officer Presence and Communication2
Physical Control2
Intermediate and Lethal Weaponry2
Excessive Force2


In the course of their duties, peace officers encounter a multitude of situations, to each of which there are numerous responses. Some of these situations, the officer can dispel tension with their presence or with their voice. Others, however, require the application of force in order to preserve lives with minimal injuries. Most of the time, force is used only as it is needed, as it should be. But there are instances where more force is used than necessary, sometimes because an officer does not know how much force to use. The public often believes that there are no standards, by which officers can gauge how much force is acceptable. What the public does not know is that different law enforcement agencies have various guidelines, which can only be followed to a certain degree, depending on the circumstances of the situation.

Use of Force: Guidelines & Principles
Most of the time, the very presence of a law enforcement official is enough to deter criminal activity. However, there is never any guarantee that that presence can always prevent violence. At these times, there may become necessary for law enforcement officials to resort to force in order to ensure the safety of the public, not to mention the safety of the officials themselves. Every law enforcement organization seeks to bring down uncooperative subjects with the least amount of force possible. But the problem is, in a high stress situation, it is exceedingly difficult to tell what level of force is acceptable. For this reason, law enforcement organizations develop guidelines to aid their officers in determining what level force is appropriate for a given situation, but do not give rigid instructions due to the changing nature of most situations. Defining Use of Force

All law enforcement officers, at some point in their careers, encounter a suspect who is both uncooperative and violent. The question is: What is the best way to resolve this situation with the least amount of force? Since the 1970’s, models have been developed to depict how force should be used. Unfortunately, there have been many complications with these linear models, such being too complex or failing to accurately express a viable process by which use of force should be determined. The revised models were based on the situation, which took into consideration other factors but lacked enough details that it was a virtual guessing game as to what force option was necessary. Linear and situational models have been replaced with cyclical ones that are much more accurate and can be better understood by the general public. One such example of these cyclical models is the Canadian National Use of Force framework.

National Use of Force Framework
In 1999, a conference was held at the Ontario Police College, attended by sixty-five experts from Canada and the United States, to develop a national model for use of force among law enforcement professionals. A final model, signed off on by the original sixty-five participants, was presented to, and accepted by, the Canadian Association of Police Chiefs. The one change made was to call it a “framework”, rather than a model. This was because it does not have to be adopted by every Canadian police force, but forms a basis upon which their policies can be built. The resultant National Use of Force Framework was developed with the following principles in mind: * The primary responsibility of a peace officer is to protect and preserve life. * The primary objective of any use of force is to ensure the public safety. * Police officer safety is...
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