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The Use of Force by Law Enforcement

Updated June 26, 2021
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The Use of Force by Law Enforcement essay

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The use of force has become a heated topic in the past recent years when it comes to law enforcement and certain crimes that are noted within the media. Well known, when police use excessive force it can cause problems within the community fairly quickly. When force is going to be used, law enforcement officers can only use a certain amount of force to control the situation that is occurring. Although, the term “excessive force” is a slippery metaphor, experts states that it is any type of force that goes beyond the necessary movement to apprehend the suspect that will keep both the bystanders and police safe (News, 2020). In more common verbiage. the use of force is permitted within certain circumstances, in regards to self-defense or defending bystanders. Extensive amount of force is commonly i.e. choke holds, misuse of batons, etc. (CMRJ201, 2020).

In the history of the United States, a court case, Graham v. Connor (1989), created the foundation for law enforcement and how the use of force is considered. Later on, it patents the Fourth Amendment, which protects citizens from unlawful search & seizures. Although it wasn’t the greatest of choice to help protect people of different races or ethnicity. Knowing such a thing, the courts have determined a set constitutional definition on the excessive use of force, many law enforcement agencies decided to go deeper on their own rules and regulations when it comes to the policies that their law enforcement officers follow (i.e. shooting at a moving vehicle, use of force, etc.).

Both Graham v. Connor and Tennessee v. Garner are the fundamental cases that supported the federal courts decision within the use of force argument. First mentioned is Tennessee v. Garner, this case is what solidified the meaning with the individual must be posing a threat. The court stated that the suspect must pose an intermediate threat for an officer to be able to use the use of force (i.e., weapon use against police) and the use of force may only be used if some warning was provided beforehand. (Obasogie, 2018). Meanwhile, Graham v. Connor, basically suggested that the rule(s) should be more restricted towards the police’s ability of using the excessive force than what it is already set. Many officers within law enforcement follow the guidelines of what Graham v, Connor has created from that particular case.

Within the United States legal history of two important cases that have set rules and guidelines for law enforcement agencies to follow to help assist in the lowering of excessive use of force, sadly such issues still occur within local departments across the United States. Due to the majority of citizens believing that their local police departments are corrupted, racist, etc. it makes sense on why they would want more restricted laws for the law enforcement to follow and be held responsible when an unlawful arrest, injury, and or the worst a death is committed by a fellow officer.

Citizens may still feel otherwise that it’s still not the greatest prevention for such use of force, as in illegally or wrongful actions (i.e. accidental shooting, misconnected arrest, etc.). In recent numbers a lot of unlawful shootings have happened in numerous police departments within America, stirring up issues, fears, and anger within the minority communities within America.

Some tactics have been created to help differ the excessive use of force within local law enforcement departments are providing their officers with many different options to help lower the incidents when it comes to the experience of citizens and the use of force. Many law enforcement agencies have created a guide for their officers to follow from a least lethal to the worst lethal option as well as adding a psychologist within their agencies for their officers to turn too as well. The guide that a lot of law enforcement agencies have provided for their officer’s ranges from just an officer presence all the way up to using a deadly weapon to control a situation.

The reasoning behind an officer leading up to use excessive force ends up merely being a poor reaction, anxiety, and or fear. Rarely is it ever due to a racist reasoning behind the excessive use of force. Psychologists have been in use within law enforcement agencies since the 1960’s as a way to help combat the issues foreseen within agencies such as the use of a deathly weapon. With the use of psychologist’s in their agencies it has help create a lot of management trainings for officers to be taking to help with their daily initiatives during the work day.

As previously mentioned, in recent years there has been a lot of law enforcement officers showing up in local news channels due to their choice while doing their job. Rather if it is a common routine pulls over that ends up going wrong due to an officer’s weapon going off accidently or a simple home check that ends up going wrong. There are many different situations in a law enforcement officers daily work day that has come across local new channels and let alone national new channels as well. Majority have ended up becoming an issue where they are tried for their decisions which ends up always being a suspension to their jobs and leading to a jail service as well. On the next page it will provide a few cases where local police officers decision to use excessive force leading to ending their careers as a police officer and going to jail.

Use of Force Examples

There are a lot of examples that can be used when it comes to highlighting the use of force by police officers but for this paper, a recent i.e., 2019 February 5, a Hadley police officer was founded guilty on his use of force while conducting his job. The officer, Mr. Roeder, was charged with a deprivation of civil rights under color of law and falsifying a police report which led him to a sentencing of no more than 20 years in prison, a total of three years under supervision release, and a grand fine of up to $250,000 as well (Former hadley police officer found guilty of using excessive force against arrestee, 2019). There are plenty of other examples out there to look at as well i.e. a Dallas police officer is sentenced to jail for the misconception of her apartment from another apartment and shot the man who she believed was trying to rob her apartment after a long shift.

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The Use of Force by Law Enforcement. (2021, Jun 26). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/the-use-of-force-by-law-enforcement/

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