Understanding Police Use Of Force, Interrogations, Deceit And Trickery

1308 words - 6 pages

Law enforcement officers are given much power and authority over one’s civil liberties. Not only do they have a duty but also a responsibility to enforce laws and ordinances in their jurisdiction, maintain order and protect its people. In some cases, the only way to accomplish this is through legitimized use of force. Use of force can best be described as "the amount of effort required by a law enforcement officer to induce compliance of an unwilling subject" (nij.gov, 2012). With that said, law enforcement officers have been given the right to apply only enough force necessary to control a situation, while defending others, preventing escape, during self-defense and while a subject is resisting arrest (Pollock, pp. 234). It is not until that force becomes excessive that it becomes say an issue.
The use of force is without a doubt an important aspect in policing. The decision to utilize any type of force comes from a multitude of recourses; department policies, training, situational variables and ethical systems. There are three major categories in which an officers use of force is categorized under; justifiable, excessive and deadly; with a thin line between justifiable and excessive. Cases where excessive force has been used, has lead to injuries, deaths, civil damages, officers convicted and sentenced to jail and police chiefs and elected officials being removed from office (Fyfe, 1988). It is an officer`s discretion in determining when the use of force is justifiable. It is for this reason advancements have been made in providing less-than-lethal options such as taser's, weapons that fire nets or weapons that temporarily impact balance, visual or auditory functions (O'Connor, 2011).
There are many factors that influence an officer's decision to use force. Some examples include situational factors, race and ethnicity, training and police subculture. The decision to use force in situational factors occurs quite frequently. The more police-citizen contact is present in areas where there is a higher percentage of minorities, homelessness and the mentally ill the more opportunity exists for the use of force. In terms of race and ethnicity, research has shown that Black and Hispanic officers apply the use of force more frequently against minority suspects than White suspects and that the highest levels of force involved Hispanic officers and Hispanic suspects (Alpert & Dunham, 2004). In terms of training, not much time is spent teaching a new officer ethics, critical thinking, problem solving or dealing with the mentally ill. Therefore, new officers are more inclined to use force. In terms of police subcultures, the need for acceptance in a police agency can hinder an officer's decision to use force. For example, when multiple officers are present during an encounter an officer seeking acceptance from them may choose to use excessive force. Whatever the case may, an officer must always remember to never let their emotions get in the way or...

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