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Use of Force

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Police Use of Force

Introduction When we look at the term, use of force, and how the police use this for the protection of the officers and the lives of others, this becomes a very debatable part of a police officer's job. The U.S. has experienced a number of incidents over the course of 20 years involving police use of force that are cause for concern among the public. People get upset about perceived misuse of police force, but say little when police officers are gunned down or seriously injured during violent encounters or situations that escalate to lethal action. It is important to know that police departments strive to reduce the amount of use of force incidents within their respective agencies. Are there alternatives to a potentially deadly encounter? One may ask, Can the officer step back and call for assistance? If the suspect's identity is known, rather than engaging in a foot pursuit, can an officer make an arrest later? Can the officer not shoot to kill? Can the officer shoot in a non-life threatening part of the body? By nature, every situation is different and must be evaluated on an individual basis. Stepping back is not always an option for an officer. When the life of an officer is threatened by someone pointing a gun at them, or by any other life threatening means, and not knowing the assailant’s intentions, this forces the officer to make a split-second decision. That decision will determine if the officer will live or die. In the early nineties there were two notable examples as they relate to use of force: the Rodney King incident in 1991 in Los Angeles, California, and the 1999 shooting death of Amadou Diallo by New York City police officers that prompted law enforcement agencies across the country to re-evaluate their use of force policies and training. (Harring, 2000) Many officers had to adjust their thoughts regarding...

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