When a law enforcement officer uses force on a subject it will be classified into one of three main categories which are, justifiable, excessive, and deadly force. The authority for law enforcement officers to use force comes from the United States Constitution (case law), state statutes, and department policy. Law enforcement use of force is very important because it involves the patrolman on the street, the corrections officer in jails and prisons, and the courts where excessive use of force cases are held.
Often times while attempting to make an arrest, a law enforcement officer will have to use the appropriate use of force to make the arrest. In some instances the appropriate use of force for some officers will be as simple as the officer physically escorting the subject away from the area and placing him or her in handcuffs. For others it will be a more serious use of force classified as deadly force and it will involve the officer discharging their firearm at the subject to protect their life or the life of another.
Some news programs portray law enforcement officers as constantly using force on subjects. The Rodney King case in 1991 received worldwide attention when news programs showed a video of King being hit repeatedly by Los Angeles police officers using batons. More recently the news videos about police use of force have involved the police and the occupy Wall Street protesters. If society based their opinion on police use of force just by what they have seen on the news they would assume that the majority of law enforcement officers are using force, however, statics show that “Among all calls for service, force was used by the police less than 1 percent of the time, according to a study examining police use of force in 1999 and 2000” (International Assoc of Chiefs of Police, 2001).
Justifiable Use of Force
In the State of Florida law enforcement use of force falls under chapter 776 of the Florida Statutes. When acting in the capacity of a sworn law enforcement officer section 776.05 of the Florida statutes says, “the officer is justified in the use of force when he or she reasonably believes to be necessary to defend him or herself or another from bodily harm while making the arrest.” As you read, the state doesn’t say how much force an officer can use but goes on to say “when he or she reasonably believes to be necessary.”
To become certified as a law enforcement officer in Florida as a corrections or police officer one will have to attend a basic recruit training program. While in the basic recruit course students will attend a two week, eighty hour course called criminal justice defensive tactics that has a universal curriculum for corrections and police officers across Florida. Defensive tactics and others courses during the academy are referred to as “high liability courses” due to the fact that while applying them as a law enforcement officer, the officer takes on a liability. In this course students will...