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Use of Force

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Use of Force

The use of force is inevitable in police work. In many situations the lives of officers or civilians can be taken by not using force when necessary or using it improperly. Many factors come into play when an officer decides to use force. This includes is the use of force justified, has the officer been properly trained to use force, and will the department be held liable if the force is used improperly?
There are two types of force in police work. One is non deadly force and the other is deadly force. Non deadly force is force that, when used, is not likely to result in serious bodily injury or death. Now just because it is not deadly does not mean you can run around and be using non deadly force because you feel like it. To use this type of force you need to have reasonable force. Reasonable force is limited to the amount of force necessary to accomplish lawful results. Say Officers are arresting a man that is kicking and punching, those officers can use only enough force that is necessary to control the situation. If the officers were to start throwing punches back that is excessive force because now they are adding to the fire and not just trying to control the situation.
One huge problem for officers is that reasonable force is subjective. This means it all depends on the situation. One thing might be reasonable force for one cop but may even be excessive force for the other due to situations and perhaps even the size of the officer. Due to the intense job police men and women have there is no time to think and this makes things difficult for them to judge if they are using reasonable force or something called unreasonable force.
Unreasonable force is known as punitive force and that is used to punish rather than to accomplish lawful results. For officers to know the difference between the uses of force each agency has policies that give the police officers guides to learn and know. This is called Use-of-Force Continuum, there are separate levels of situations and this shows how they should react to certain calls. This helps them know what force is legal and they must know that it can change from one level to the next in seconds so they must be prepared at any time.
Deadly force is force that, when used, poses a high risk of death or serious bodily injury to its human target, regardless of whether or not death, serious injury, or any harm actually occurred. Deadly force is the highest degree of force considered reasonable only when used to counter an immediate threat of death or great bodily harm. Deadly force cannot be used against non-deadly force. This means if there is a lesser degree of injury anticipated and or if a lesser degree of force affords an effective defense, it must be used. Once you have gotten out of the way of danger the use of force must stop.
Probably the most famous case that has to do with use of force is Tennessee V. Garner. One evening two Tennessee police officers responded to a burglary in progress. They showed up to the house with the home owner on the front porch saying she heard glass shattering and she was certain that someone was breaking in. One officer stayed in the front while the other officer went to the backyard. On his way to the back of the house he heard a door slam and saw Edward Garner running across the yard. Garner than attempted to jump a 6 foot chain link fence and with the help of a flashlight the officer saw his face and hands and he stated that he saw no sign of a weapon. The officer told Garner to stop and he continued to climb the fence. The officer shot and killed Edward Garner and died. On his person were 10 dollars and a purse from the house he just stole from. The father filed a lawsuit on the officer and the court found that since there was no immediate danger to that officer or the public the deadly force was unconstitutional. Added to that, a police officer may not seize an unarmed nondangerous suspect by shooting him dead.
Now one way to prevent things like this from happening again is to train the young and inexperienced police officers the correct and effective way to judge the use of force. An officer must reasonably believe it is necessary to shoot to kill to defend him or herself or someone else from imminent death. It’s a call made in the blink of an eye, in tense and uncertain circumstances, sometimes limited by distance, distractions or darkness. And it brings to bear all of the officer’s experience, awareness and, perhaps most important, training. The question is how do we do this? How do we prepare our officers for the real world? Half a second. According to experts, that’s how much time an officer has to pull a weapon when confronted with someone perceived as dangerous and about to inflict harm. Studies show that it takes a quarter of a second for an officer to recognize a threat, such as when a person is reaching for a gun, and another quarter-second for that officer to draw his gun. It takes another .06 seconds to pull the trigger. One place that is trying to make a difference and make those times quicker is the San Diego Regional Law Enforcement training center at Mira Mar College. This building has a force option simulator. It puts you through real world situations and helps improve judgment and reaction time.

The use of force is one of the most controversial arguments to this day. Especially with recent events. Yes it is the officers job to know when its time to use deadly force and to not however people who are not police officers or law enforcement in general do not realize the pressure and lack of time to make critical decisions that could mean life or death for bystanders or for even themselves.

Work cited

http://www.nij.gov/topics/law-enforcement/officer-safety/use-of-force/pages/welcome.aspx

http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/default.asp?Item=1374

http://www.policeone.com/

http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/10/us/south-carolina-case-police-deadly-force/index.html

http://touch.latimes.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-81986495/

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