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Use of Force

    Fri, 2006-08-11 02:51 — Gumby

    I'm liking the Use of Force stories. I'm not in law enforcement, but I have a bouncer or story or two I might contribute sometime.

    I have a two part question.

    First of all, what would situation would constitute an officer using force, or crossing over to deadly force? What would make an officer use non-lethal force tools (nightstick, pepper spray, etc)? Is this department policy, or a matter of choice.

    Secondly, assuming that police officers were more trained/comfortable in unarmed combat, would we see more use of it, as oppossed to an escalation of force?

    KibunInc's picture

    Thanks for the questions. I would like to hear your stories or situations that you have had. I will try to keep the answers to your question as short as possible but there are many factors in what you are asking.

    First: What would constitute an Officer using force or crossing over ot deadly force? In simple terms when an Officer feels that his life or the life of another is in danger. There are many levels of force usually going from Verbal, control hold, pepper spray or impact weapon, deadly force. For example an Officer may contact a person and order them to place their hands on the back of their head. If the person refuses the Officer may go to the next level by appling a control hold on the person (ex. wrist lock, arm lock, etc). If the person now struggles and resist the Officer may step up to use of pepper spray or impact weapon. If the subject then picks up a weapon the Officer may move up to deadly force. This is a basic scale but an Officer does not have to start at the bottom and work his way up. If an Officer confronts a subject and the subject has a weapon in his hand the Officer may have to escalate straight to deadly force.

    California law allows the Officer to escalate force above that which is being used by a suspect. Also the state of mind of the Officer plays an important part of the amount of force used. For example if an Officer is out numbered by a large crowd and subjects are trying to take the Officers gun, if the Officer believes that he will die if his gun is taken away he may use deadly force even though the subjects may be unarmed. Another example would be a subject with a baseball bat standing in a field, although the subject is armed there could be a safe distance for the Officer not to use deadly force but deploy a bean bag round or 40 mm round. The officer must be able to justify his use of force.

    What would make an Officer use non lethal force, policy or Choice?

    It is probably a mixture of both. Police Departments have a use of force manual which tells the Officer what level of force each piece of equipment is. For example in many departments Pepper spray, baton, and Taser are all along the same force level and all be carried on an Officers duty belt. The Officer must remmeber that a baton can also be deadly force if he strikes a vital portion of the body, so the Officer may use pepper spray instead. Pepper spray does not always work (ex. a person on PCP, or extremely intoxicated person), so the Officer may not opt for that immediately but instead use the baton or taser. This is all a judgement call that an Officer must make in a split second of contacting a hostile person. Remember an Officer should go by his departments use of force manual but if the Officer is in a fight for his life, then anything goes.

    If an Officer is more trained in unarmed combat would we see more use of it as opposed to an escalation of force?

    I believe so!!!! The more you train the less likely it is that you or another person will get injured. I train as often as possible and as a result I have not used a baton or pepper spray in over four years. I am able to control subjects by grabbing hold of them and having superior skills to control them and handcuff them. With that said, I had a subject try to arm bar me, I was able to defeat the hold but Officers need to know when a subject is showing good skills in ground fighting. If I had not defeated the hold, I would have quickly eacalated the use of force.

    Remember people are not suppose to fight with the Police. If an Officer loses a fight the suspect may take his gun and kill him. Losing is not an option for law enforcement. When a person fights with an Officer it becomes a serious Officer safety issue do to this person will obviously do anything needed to stop from being arrested. The more we train the less likely we will be hurt and the more likely we will be able to go home to our families and serve the public agian tommorrow.

    I only touched lightly on this subject. To fully cover this subject fully my reply would be about 5 pages long. For example on case law you can buy a book called "The Legal Source Book," which covers court decisions on every type of law. Send me some of your stores I would be interested in reading them and thanks for the questions. If I did answer your questions, let me know and I will try to be more specific.

    You can email me with your story through the contact page at :cool:

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