POWER & AUTHORITY:
THE USE OF EXCESSIVE FORCE
Julio E. Negron
Professor James McDonald
Tuesday & Thursday
The use of excessive force by police organizations around the world as a crime control mechanism has been widely criticized and debated for many years. Many ask, what exactly is excessive force? What causes an officer to use excessive force and is it justified? There is much ambiguity when it comes to answering such questions. Your perception will undoubtedly create your expectation and too many times one’s failure to acknowledge, ‘the other side of the story,’ causes a misperception. How big of a role do the media play in portraying police use of excessive force as fair or unnecessary? These are all valid questions that will be addressed in this analysis as well as what is being done to address the situation.
We begin with the definition of excessive force as provided by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, “excessive force is the amount of effort required by police to compel compliance by an unwilling suspect” (Police use of Force, 2009). That is, police will turn to excessive force when an individual has been uncooperative. Some argue that the police’s most defining feature is their capacity to use coercive force (Katz & Walker, 2008). Police use of force may include physical force as well as the power to arrest, but most importantly the power to use deadly force. It is important to keep in mind that there are laws set in place to limit the amount of force an officer uses, including excessive force. Such laws have allowed for better policing practices and an improved police/community relationship. Although police use of excessive force still arises from time to time, the number of incidents has dropped dramatically over the years. According to a study done in the years 1999 and 2000 of calls for service, force was used by police in less than one percent of the calls (Police use of Force, 2009). In
Cited: (Retired), L. A. (2000). From the Inside Looking Out. In J. Nelson, Police Brutality (p. 265). New York: Norton. Katz, C. M., & Walker, S. (2008). The Police In America. New York: McGraw-Hill. Lawrence, R. G. (2000). The Politics of Force. Los Angeles: University of California Press. Police use of Force. (2009, August 04). Retrieved March 19, 2010, from National Institute of Justice web site: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/topics/law-enforcement/use-of-force/welcome.htm#note1 Victor E. Kappeler, D. C. (1992). Police Officer Higher Education, Citizen Complaints, and Departmental Rule Violation. American Journal of Police , 37-54.