Police officers have the authority to use force to ensure that laws are upheld and public safety and security maintained. The granting of that authority carries with it an expectation that the individual police officers and their law enforcement organizations will be openly and publicly accountable for any use of force. Police use of force is officially sanctioned, but questions remain. What is a reasonable use of force? Why and under what circumstances is one type of force chosen over another? What standards are in place to ensure that all police officers are consistent in addressing potential use of force situations? This paper will focus on such protocol, which is the use of force continuum.
Most law enforcement agencies have policies that guide their use of force. These policies describe a escalating series of actions an officer may take to resolve a situation. This continuum generally has many levels, and officers are instructed to respond with a level of force appropriate to the situation at hand, acknowledging that the officer may move from one part of the continuum to another in a matter of seconds.
There are many ways of the use of force. The lowest possible level is when no force is needed at all. The ‘officer presence’ level is a level where just the officer is needed, and no force is needed to deter crime. If there is no response from the subject then some verbalization, the next level, will take place. Officers will usually respond by talking to the subject, asking for identification. Or if they are suspect of a crime, most officers will make commands to gain compliance to the subject. If they try to resist the officer, usually by fleeing, then they escalate the level by using hand control. Officers may try to grab and hold the subject to control it, or if needed, punch and kick a subject to gain control. Officers may have to respond subjects which may be more violent than others, even those who fight back at officers. Such a process would...
References: WCVB: Police justified in fatally shooting woman in Manchester: http://www.wcvb.com/news/local/ag-police-justified-in-fatally-shooting-woman-in-manchester/-/9848876/22442668/-/5cx5aw/-/index.html
Police Chief Magazine, http://www.policechiefmagazine.org/
The (Original) Use of Force Model, http://www.pss.cc/uofm.htm
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