Use of force

Topics: Police, Deadly force, Constable Pages: 10 (2314 words) Published: March 3, 2015

Police officers are given a considerable amount of discretion due to the nature of the job. Officers are faced with many threatening situations forcing them to react quickly. A major concern with the amount of discretion officers have is their power to decide when to use force or when to use lethal force. Manning (1997) argues that it is generally accepted that police should be allowed to use force. He also explains that there are an uncertain amount people who agree on as to what constitutes excessive force. The line between what is necessary and what is extreme is very thin and hard to see. Use of force is no doubt one of the most important aspects in policing and force should also be used with great discretion. The most important factors to community policing include personalization, partnership and problem solving (Allender, 2004). The idea is to create a relationship with citizens that are both trustworthy and honest. The use of force can include many different actions a police officer can take part in. Force can range from verbal commands, to the use of lethal force. Police need to have discretion to use force to protect themselves as well as the community. When debating the issue of police use of force, the issue of what actions constitute too much force must also be addressed. Another concern is the possibility of corruption amount officers. When given such great power, the probability of corruption is high. Officers generally do not start out as corrupt, but years of work on the force can create animosity between officers and suspects and lead them to decide to use force more quickly (McEwen, 1996). Many times, officers patrol the streets alone which creates the chance for potential abuse of power (McEwen, 1996). Although police officers need to be allowed to exercise some discretion, they also need limits and guidelines to follow when using their powers of discretion (Manning, 1997). The decision to use force should not be taken lightly in that people lives are at risk. Police should be allowed discretion in decisions to use force; however, this discretion should be limited. In several cases in Arizona, officers have used deadly means of force. In all cases, the officers involved had to deal with ethical issues of whether or not to use such force. In many cases, they were faced with a highly stressful situation. By setting guidelines for these officers to follow, possibilities for misuse or abuse may be reduced. According to the Center of Study of Ethics in the Professions (2003), force should only be used with restrictions and only after discussions, negotiations and persuasions have taken place and have been found ineffective. The use of force is unavoidable sometimes, however, an officer must take all precautions when applying force. They must not inflict any pain that will cause for the inhumane treatment of any person. The decision to use force can be guided by the use of a continuum (McEwen, 1996). It cannot simply be seen as a black and white issue; basically an officer does not either kill a suspect or completely avoid physical contact. The continuum of force is the measurement of distinctive types of force used by police officers (Adamans, 1999). The minimal force can be used and described simple as handling someone too roughly. Maximum force can be described simply as the use of lethal force. Because of this, it is important to value the use of force on a continuum. The measurement of this continuum of force was intended to reflect the official policies of the Phoenix police department and to address the issues of the misunderstanding that there was either force or no force (Adams, 1999). Many people believe that there is no grey area to the use of force. The continuum of force measurement captures all of the important variations of actions that police can take when dealing with society (Adams, 1999). At one end of the continuum, there are verbal commands, and at the complete other end, deadly...


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