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Of course police officers are often justified in

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Of course, police officers are often justified inusing force to protect themselves and othercitizens. As we noted previously, they are thetargets of tens of thousands of assaults eachyear. Law enforcement agents are also usuallyjustified in using force to make an arrest, toprevent suspects from escaping, to restrainsuspects or other individuals for their ownsafety, or to protect property.At the same time, few observers would benaïve enough to believe that the policearealwaysjustified in the use of force. A surveyof emergency room physicians found that 98percent believed that they had treated patients
who were victims of excessive police force.How, then, is “misuse” of force to be defined?To provide guidance for officers in this trickyarea, nearly every law enforcement agencydesigns ause-of-force matrix. As the exampleinFigure 6.6shows, such a matrix presentsofficers with the proper force options fordifferent levels of contact with a civilian.Figure6.6The Orlando (Florida) Police Department’sUse-of-Force MatrixLike most local law enforcement agencies, the Orlando PoliceDepartment has a policy to guide its officers’ use of force. Suchpolicies instruct an officer on how to react to an escalatingseries of confrontations with a civilian and are often expressedvisually, as shown here.Source: Michael E. Miller, “Taser Use and the Use-of-Force Continuum,”PoliceChief(September 2010), 72. Photo credit:iStock.com/kali9Types of ForceLearning Objective6Clarify the concepts of nondeadly force, deadly force, and reasonable forcein the context of police use of force.To comply with the various, and not alwaysconsistent, laws concerning the use of force, apolice officer must understand that there aretwo kinds of force:nondeadly forceanddeadlyforce. The vast majority of force used by lawenforcement is nondeadly force—that is, forcethat is not likely to cause death or great bodilyharm. In most states, the use of nondeadlyforce is regulated by the concept ofreasonableforce, which allows the use of nondeadly forcewhen a reasonable person would assume that
such force was necessary for the officer tocarry out her or his legal duties.So, for example, when New York City policeofficer James Frascatore threw ex-professionaltennis player James Blake to the ground severalyears ago, the officer was not stripped of hisbadge because he used force on a suspect whowas innocent. Frascatore was disciplinedbecause his superiors felt that tackling anunarmed, compliant suspect as part of aninvestigation into a fraudulent credit cardoperation was excessive and unreasonable.In contrast with nondeadly force,deadlyforceis force that an objective police officerrealizes will place the subject in direct threat ofserious injury or death. A law enforcementagent is justified in using deadly force if she orhe reasonably believes that such force isnecessary to protect herself, himself, oranother person from serious harm.

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