Police Use of Force

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Every police officer is aware of the possibility that while on duty they may have to use force to restrain and subdue a criminal. Many factors go into an officer’s decision of how to react when he is faced with a non-compliant or combative criminal. The amount of force can vary from simple verbal commands, all the way up to deadly force. This broad range of actions that an officer may use is often charted on a Confrontational Continuum Model. This paper while not cover the ethics behind lethal force, but will discuss the steps, and progressions leading up to that point. Non-lethal force is very common for a police officer to use in their career. A law enforcement agency must carefully choose the various devices, and techniques it will authorize for the protection of its officers and the public. In making policy decisions in this area, an agency should consider existing court decisions and litigation trends. Use of force is a very important part of an officer’s ability to keep themselves and the public safe, but is also very controversial. The first thing anyone should try, if not in immediate danger, is to verbally diffuse a situation. If an officer can use words to get compliance from a criminal, then he or she won’t have to worry about defending their actions in court. There are no ethical issues involved with this level of the continuum. The use of restraint holds and chokes is a very dangerous thing if used improperly, but has many advantages when done correctly. Holds and chokes can be used in close quarters. There is no need to strike a suspect and they are effective regardless of the size of the officer compared to the suspect. Chokes and restraint techniques are an attempt to provide "humane" means of controlling combative persons without the necessity of striking them, thus minimizing the risk of broken bones, lacerations and other

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