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The Use of Force by Police, Specific Cases and their Implications - Research Paper Example

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This paper has discussed three different incidents where police have used force in a manner that some observers consider questionable. There is no standard as to what constitutes reasonable or unreasonable force, and in many cases the decision is one the police officer has to make in a few seconds at most…
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The Use of Force by Police, Specific Cases and their Implications
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Download file to see previous pages Force is used by the police to overcome resistance to their authority and to protect both civilians and officers. It is necessary that they have this ability in order for them to carry out their function, and the use of reasonable force is legal. However, the subject is one of significant contention, in regards to both non-deadly and deadly force. The use of force is often connected with racism, with significant concern by civilians that many instances where force is used are the result of racial profiling. There is rising debate about whether the police overstep their boundaries in the use of force, using force when it is not necessary, and in order to subdue or suppress civilians that are involved in undesirable, but not illegal actions. Examples of this include use of police force on civilians during peaceful protests, and using excessive force on particular races but not others. This had lead to concerns that control surrounding the use of force in the police is severely lacking.
The manner in which police use force is varied and depends on the circumstance, the individuals involved and the agency in which the officer is from. The most basic form of force involves the use of handcuffs. Other non-lethal forms of force include the use of conductive energy devices (CEDs) such as tasers, and of aerosol sprays such as Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) spray, also known as pepper spray (MacDonald et al., 2009). . Firearms are also used, although the rate at which they are discharged is low, with one study estimating at in 0.6% of incidents a firearm was discharged . There are no national laws or regulations that control the use of firearms within the police, and as a consequence, policies differ between cities and states. The rules and directives concerning the use of force differ between agencies. Within the United States, 45% of local and state law enforcement agencies have been found to allow the use of OC spray, and 20-30% allow the use of CEDs to bypass passive resistance . Likewise, different agencies and states have different follow-up procedures for the use of force. The amount of force used by police has been found to differ significantly depending on the authority of the police officer. Detectives were found to be considerably more forceful than patrol officers under the same types of situations . Concern for the use of force by the police is partially connected to the lack of discipline for police officers that use force that is greater than the situation requires, even when the force that was used was clearly unjustified. In the case of the use of lethal force through firearms, following incidents it is often unclear whether the force used was unjustified or justified. As the cases are reviewed by the police, there are few cases where the use of force is considered unjustified and as a consequence there are few criminal charges laid . The definition of justified force that is used by the police in these investigations does not always match this ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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