Use of force

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Warning for police brutality

Use of force is the amount of restraint that one, usually a member of law enforcement, must use to gain control of an unruly situation or person.[2]

A use of force doctrine is employed by police forces, as well as soldiers on guard duty, to regulate the actions of police and guards. The aim of such a doctrine is to balance security needs with ethical concerns for the rights and well-being of intruders or suspects. In the event that members of the public are injured, this may give rise to issues of self-defense as a justification. In the event of death, this may be a justifiable homicide.

U.S. soldiers on guard duty are given a "use of force briefing" by the sergeant of the guard before being assigned to their post.

For the English law on the use of force by police officers and soldiers in the prevention of crime, see Self-defence in English law. The Australian position on the use of troops for civil policing is set out by Michael Hood in Calling Out the Troops: Disturbing Trends and Unanswered Questions [1] and, for comparative purposes, see *Keebine-Sibanda, Malebo J. & Sibanda, Omphemetse S. "Use of Deadly Force by the South African Police Services Re-visited". [2].

History[edit]

Use of force dates back to the beginning of established law enforcement, with a fear that officers would abuse their power.[3]

Use of force continuum[edit]

The use of force may be standardized by a use of force continuum, which presents guidelines as to the degree of force appropriate in a given situation. One source identifies five very generalized steps, increasing from least use of force to greatest. It is only one side of the model, as it does not give the levels of subject resistance that merit the corresponding increases in force.[3] Each successive level of force is meant to describe an escalating series of actions an officer may take to resolve a situation, and the level of force used rises only when a lower level of force would be ineffective in dealing with the situation.[4] Typically any style of a use of force continuum will start with officer presence, and end with the use of deadly force.

  1. Presence (using the effect of the presence of an authority figure on a subject)
  2. Verbalization (commanding a subject)
  3. Empty hand control (using empty hands to search, relieve weapons, immobilize, or otherwise control a subject)
  4. Intermediate weapons (using non-lethal chemical, electronic or impact weapons on a subject)
  5. Deadly Force (using any force likely to cause permanent injury or death to a subject)

Use of force continuums can be further broken down.

U.S. Case Law[edit]

Graham Vs. Connor (1989)[edit]

On November 12, 1984 Graham, who was a diabetic, felt an insulin rush coming on and rushed to the store with a friend to get some orange juice. When the store was too crowded, he and his friend proceeded to go to another friend's house. In the midst of all this, he was being watched by a Charlotte, North Carolina police officer. While on their way to the friend's house, they were both stopped, and the tension began. Law enforcement used excessive force while making this arrest based on suspicion of robbery. After his arrest, it was concluded that Graham had a broken foot, cuts on his wrists, a bruised forehead and an injured shoulder.[5]

Tennessee Vs. Garner (1974)[edit]

On October 3, 1974 Memphis police officer were called to respond to a possibly burglary. The police officers who arrived on scene were Elton Hymom and Leslie Wright. When they arrived to the scene, a lady standing on the porch began to tell them that she heard a noise sounding like a house was being broken into. Officer Hymon went to check, where he then saw a fleeing suspect, Edward Garner. He then realized that Garner had no weapon. Garner began an attempt to flee away from the house and as he was climbing over the gate, Officer Hymon then shouted "Stop, POLICE"! Garner failed to obey what he was told to do and as a result, Garner was shot in the back of the head. Garner was later pronounced dead and in his possession he held a purse and ten dollars.[6]

Nelson V. The City of Davis (2004)[edit]

On April 16, 2004, what was supposed to be known as the "biggest party in history" took place at the annual UC Davis picnic. Due to the large amount of participants at this party, people began to illegally park their cars. Sgt. John Wilson demanded that officers start to issue parking tickets to the illegally parked cars. Tickets were also issued to the underage drinkers. Wilson called the owner of the apartment complex because of the disturbances that were being caused; loud music and the sounds of bottles breaking. Sgt. John Wilson was consented by the complex apartment owner to have non residents to leave the complex. 30 to 40 officers were rounded up with riot gear - including pepper ball guns - to try and disperse the crowd of 1,000 attendees. The officers gathered in front of the complex where 15 to 20 students, including Nelson, were attempting to leave, but no instructions by the police were given. Pepper balls began to fly, one of which struck Nelson in the eye. He collapsed immediately and was taken to the hospital much later on, where he suffered multiple injuries including temporary blindness and a permanent loss of visual acuity. He endured multiple surgeries to try and repair the injury. Nelson was forced to withdraw from UC Davis, losing his athletic scholarship due to the injury he sustained. The officers were unable to find any criminal charges against Nelson.[7]

Officer attributes[edit]

Education[edit]

Studies have shown that law enforcement officers with some college education (typically two-year degrees) use force much less often than officers with little to no higher education.[8] In events that the educated officers do use force, it is usually what is considered "reasonable" force.[9] Despite these findings, very little - only 1% - of police forces within the United States have education requirements for those looking to join their forces.[10] Some argue that police work deeply requires experience that can only be gained from actually working in the field.[11]

Experience[edit]

It is argued that the skills for performing policing tasks well cannot be produced from a classroom setting. These skills tend to be better gained through repeated exposure to law enforcement situations while in the line of work.[12] The results as to whether or not the amount of experience an officer has contributes to the likelihood that they will use force differ among studies.

Other characteristics[edit]

It has not been strongly found that the race, class, gender, age etc. of an officer affects the likelihood that they will use force.[13] Situational factors may come into play.

Split-second syndrome[edit]

Split-second syndrome is an example of how use of force can be situation-based. Well-meaning officers may resort to the use of force too quickly under situations where they must make a rapid decision. [14]

Departmental attributes[edit]

Policies on use of force can differ between departments. The type of policies established and whether or not they are enforced can have an impact on an officer's likeliness to use force. If policies are established, but not enforced heavily by the department, the policies may not make a difference. For example, the Rodney King case was described as a problem with the departmental supervision not being clear on policies of (excessive) force. Training offered by the department can be a contributing factor, as well, though it has only been a recent addition to include information on when to use force, rather than how to use force. [15]

Statistics[edit]

Males are more likely to have force used against them more than women. In 2008, people who have had encounters with the police, 78% of them agreed that excessive force was used, 40% were arrested.citation needed

England and Wales[edit]

In England and Wales the use of (reasonable) force is provided to police and any other person from Section 3 of the Criminal Law Act 1967, which states:

"A person may use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances in the prevention of crime, or in effecting or assisting in the lawful arrest of offenders or suspected offenders or of persons unlawfully at large".

Use of force may be considered lawful if it was, on the basis of the facts as the accused honestly believed them,[16] necessary and reasonable.

(Further provision about when force is "reasonable" was made by section 76 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008.)

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Nazemi, Sandra. "Sir Robert Peel's Nine Principals Applied to Modern Day Policing". lacp.org. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  2. ^ "Police Use of Force". National Institute of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. Retrieved 26 September 2014. 
  3. ^ Alpert, Geoffrey P.; Dunham, Roger G. (2004). Understanding Police Use of Force: Officers, Suspects, and Reciprocity. New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 17. 
  4. ^ "The Use-of-Force Continuum". National Institute of Justice. 4 August 2009. 
  5. ^ "Graham Vs. Connor". Law.uark.edu. Retrieved 24 October 2014. 
  6. ^ [Case Laws involving "Use of Force" Tennessee Vs. Garner (1985) On October 3, 1974 Memphis police officer were called to respond to a possibly burglary. The cops who arrived on scene were police officers Elton Hymom and Leslie Wright. When they arrived to the scene, a lady standing on the porch began to tell them that she heard a noise sounding like a house was being broken into. Officer Hymon went to check, where he then saw a fleeing suspect, Edward Garner. He then realized that Garner had no weapon. Garner began an attempt to flee away from the house and as he was climbing over the gate, Officer Hymon then shouted "Stop, POLICE!" Garner failed to obey what he was told to do and as a result, Garner was shot in the back of the head. Garner was later pronounced dead and in his possession he held a purse and ten dollars "Tennessee V. Garner"] Check |url= scheme (help). Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  7. ^ "Nelson Vs. The City of Davis". Retrieved 7 November 2014. 
  8. ^ Galvan, Astrid (November 30, 2010). "Study: Educated Cops Less Likely To Use Force". Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque Journal). Retrieved 10 October 2014. 
  9. ^ Worden, Robert E. (1995). And Justice for All: Understanding and Controlling Police Abuse of Force. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. pp. 23–51. 
  10. ^ Rydberg, Jason; Terrill, William (2010). "The Effect of Higher Education on Police Behavior". Police Quarterly 13 (1): 92–120. Retrieved 10 October 2014. 
  11. ^ Paoline III, Eugene A.; Terrill, William (February 2007). "Police Education, Experience, and the Use of Force". Criminal Justice and Behavior 34 (2): 182. Retrieved 24 October 2014. 
  12. ^ Terrill, William (February 2007). "Police Education, Experience, and the Use of Force". Criminal Justice and Behavior 34 (2): 182. Retrieved 14 November 2014. 
  13. ^ Travis, Jeremy; Chaiken, Jan; Kaminski, Robert (October 1999). "Use of Force by Police". National Institute of Justice: 9. Retrieved 7 November 2014. 
  14. ^ Dunham, Roger G.; Alpert, Geoffrey P. (2010). Critical Issues in Policing (6 ed.). Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, Inc. p. 466. 
  15. ^ Dunham, Roger G.; Alpert, Geoffrey P. (2010). Critical Issues in Policing (6 ed.). Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, Inc. pp. 513–527. 
  16. ^ CPS: Self-Defence and the Prevention of Crime

References[edit]

External links[edit]