Use of Deadly Force and Less Than Lethal Force
Today’s law enforcement officer has been placed under a microscope and every action, word, moment and expression is scrutinized by the public and the media. When the situation dictates the taking of a human life by a law enforcement officer in the line of duty even more emphasis and examination falls upon the officer and the department. Fortunately, because of advancements in technology and training, today’s officer is better trained and afforded a variety of less lethal options when confronted with a use of deadly force situation.Recent events and court decisions has caused departments to re-examine existing policies and training practice in an effort to become more compliant with national trends involving the use of deadly force and less lethal confrontations. A recent event within my own department has given rise to policy revision and training methods.
No matter how clear cut a situation involving deadly force may seem there will always be doubt and skepticism relating to the actions of the officer and the position of the department.Due to this recent event, our department will take a closer look at the use of deadly force policy, the equipment utilized, the cost associated with the equipment, less lethal options ND the training necessary to reduce allowably and Insure that department In Is line with the national trend In use of force decisions and training. The overall goal of the department Is to Insure the safety of the officers, reduce and or prevent Issues of allowably and preserve human life to the utmost degree unless circumstances compel the officer to use deadly force.Training will play a very important role in the success of this organizational plan because the proper training in the techniques of deployment will give the officer greater confidence and balance when confronted with a violent situation. In order to address recent issues within the department relating to use of force and the use of less than lethal force, a more comprehensive and detailed training aerogram should be evaluated and updated. Training is the critical component in the reduction of liability for a law enforcement agency.A good training program can withstand any Judicial test of competency and receive validation from the courts.
Use of Deadly Force and Less Than Lethal Force Essay Example
By establishing an aggressive training program that is update on the latest techniques and legal decisions an agency insulates itself from liability and forces the plaintiff to reach a higher standard of the burden of proof. A high quality training program does not completely eliminate exposure from lawsuits but it greatly reduces departmental ability. In the design and creation of a training policy one of the first areas that must be addressed is use of deadly force.Deadly force has been defined by the State of Georgia as when a law enforcement officer has reasonable belief that a person is about to receive physical harm and that the offender poses a threat to life while is the possession of an instrument that can inflict death. (Staff, 2010). The clear definition to the use of deadly force can be found in the Official Criminal Code of Georgia Annotated section 17-4-20. Another area that must be addressed as a acquirement for training is in the area of less than lethal use of force.
The department must also adopt and revise all policies relating to use of deadly force, use of force by hand, use of force by instrument or object and use of force less than lethal means. The policy that is revised will identify the areas for training and address all departmental issues. The training standard for the department will be set at a minimum of once per year required training in all of the areas as stated above. The training curriculum will be addressed in more detail later in the research paper.However, before we address the training I feel that we must first examine the foundation of where the orientation of policy was created by cases from the United States Supreme Court. In 1985 a land mark United States Supreme Court decision was made in the case of Tennessee v. Gardner, 471 U.
S. 1 (1985). The incident revolved around the use of deadly force to apprehend a burglary suspect who took flight from police officers. This decision later became known as the “fleeing felon” law. During the pursuit and the perpetrator.It was soon discovered after the shooting that the fleeing suspect was unarmed. The case was tried in the courts of Tennessee and finally reached the US Supreme Court.
In March of 1985 the case was finally decided. In the decision of the US Supreme court it was clearly stated that the Tennessee statute which allowed for the use of any force to apprehend a fleeing suspect was unconstitutional. The US Supreme Court further stated in their decision that force can only be used if it is necessary to prevent escape and the officer deems the suspect to be an immediate threat to others. Tennessee v. Garner, 1985). The US Supreme Court further analyzed the case and determined that the use of deadly force is in fact a seizure under the fourth amendment. (Tennessee v.
Garner, 1985). Basically, the United States Supreme Court ruled that law enforcement officers were not allowed to use deadly force against an unarmed person and only in the event the suspect poses an immediate threat of bodily harm to the officers or others, deadly force is not authorized.Law enforcement agencies across the country continued to operate under these guidelines until 1989. In 1989 another landmark case was decided which changed the dynamics and guiding force in all use of force cases. In 1989 the United States Supreme Court heard once again a case involving the use of force. In the case of Graham v. Connors, 490 U.
S. 386 (1989) the U. S. Supreme court rendered a decision that changed the parameter as set forth in Tennessee v. Gardner. In the case of Graham v.Connors, the suspect Graham was stopped by police based on suspicious actions.
During the encounter, the police used force to restrain Mr.. Graham until the fact and circumstances of the case could be discovered. After the encounter with law enforcement, Mr.. Graham laid claims of excessive force and unreasonable seizure. Upon hearing the case, the U.
S. Supreme Court decided in the case and set a new standard for law enforcement officers to observe. The U. S. Supreme Court reached a decision and created a new term to define use of force issues.The Court created the, “objective reasonableness standard”. (Graham v.
Connors, 1989). The U. S. Supreme Court held that in order to claim a violation of excessive force under the 4th or 14th amendment to the Constitution one must demonstrate to the court which specific Constitutional right was violated and the court must apply the specific Constitutional standard which regulates that right. (Graham v. Connors, 1989). The U.
S. Supreme Court went on further to establish what is now known as the, “reasonable officer standard”. The U.S. Supreme Court stated, “The reasonableness of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, and its calculus must embody an allowance for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second decisions about the amount of force necessary in a particular situation”. Any use of force issue must be viewed from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight”. (Graham v.
Connors, 1989). In summary, the U. S.Supreme Court set forth the standard which eclipsed the decision in Tennessee v. Gardner and created the new standard when reviewing use of force issues including use of deadly force. The Court clearly stated that when examining use of force issues several factors had to be taken into consideration when reaching a decision. Those factors laid down by the U.
S. Supreme court are the severity of the offense, the demonstration of immediate threat, if the offender is actively resisting arrest and if the offender is attempting to avoid arrest by taking flight.By applying the objective reasonableness standard of another officer on the scene, the court concluded that these would be the determining factors in use of Orca cases to resolve the issue if any Constitutional rights were violated. Therefore, any departmental policy regarding use of force shall encompass both United States Supreme Court cases as guidance for establishing departmental policy as well as departmental training standards. Departmental policy shall be designed and tapered to follow the guidelines as set forth in the United States Supreme Court decision of Graham v.Connors. State law has defined the use of force as that force which is necessary to prevent serious bodily injury and/or death when an individual or officer feels threatened.
Using the decision in Graham v. Connors and State law definition combined, the departmental policy will cover those areas outlined in the law and the court decision. The departmental policy will be designed to provide the officer with guidelines and the proper application of the use of force. All use of force issues including deadly force and less than lethal force will be covered in the policy.The purpose of having a policy is to insure that when a use of force situation may arise, the officers are given clear understanding as to the necessary steps they can take when the situation escalates. The departmental logic is not manufactured to trap or ensnare an officer when they are called upon to use force to affect an arrest. The policy is designed to assist the officer and provide limited coverage of liable.
If the officer follows the policy when applied to a given use of force situation they are not exposed to the level of liability they would be if acting without a policy or on their own accord.The policy is provided to act a guide in the proper application of the use of force. Incorporated in this policy will also be a use of force continuum which will serve to guide the officers if the level of force used by the suspect is escalated. The use of force continuum will help direct the officers in the level and degree of force they can use to defend themselves and others. All of these issues will be covered in detail in the new departmental policy and the latest legal updates regarding use of force will also be included in the policy revision.The new policy will also serve as a guide for the departmental training program as well. All departmental training must be based on departmental policy or case law decisions.
Many of the areas that are researched and implemented for training, decision; whether it is use of force, vehicle pursuits or firearms training these sections have focused and shaped training over the past thirty years. The purpose of having departmental training is to remain compliant with recent court cases that effect Job related issues and to maintain an ever vigilant position to reduce liability.The goal of departmental training is to provide training in the areas of high liability based on decisions in a court of law. The training offered to officers will help reduce the departmental liability in excessive force complaints, wrongful death suits and cruel and unusual punishment claims. Training will provide the officer with the latest sequences of defending themselves and identifying an escalation in the use of force to affect the arrest as well as offering an option to deadly force. The other option offered to law enforcement officers is the use of less than lethal force.Just as with use of deadly force officers must also be trained in the use of less than lethal options.
By having and on-going training program within the department, the agency is able to demonstrate to the public and the courts that the vital and necessary steps have been taken to train officer in a manner of defense other than deadly force. Just eke the use of firearms, agencies must be able to show that an officer is proficient in the use of their weapon in the event they are required to use deadly force.Thus, the agency must also demonstrate that an officer is proficient in the use of less than lethal weapons. The purpose of conducting the training is to demonstrate that the officers have met the minimum standards for the use and implementation of this weapons system by attaining a minimum training score. This is the main reason for establishing a minimum training score or having a proficiency rating for all of the less than lethal options utilized in the apartment. The training guidelines for the agency shall be set forth as part of the standard operating policy and procedure.All departmental personnel will be required to attain a minimum re-qualification score twice a year in the use of a firearm as well as any back-up weapons.
Officers will be exposed to the various options of less than lethal force and demonstrate a working knowledge of the weapon system. This will include basic and advanced training in pepper spray, Taster electrical control device, ASP baton, and any other less than lethal weapons system that maybe implemented in the future.A more advanced and definitive training guideline will be explained in complete detail in the department policy and procedure manual. Based on the policy a comprehensive training curriculum will be developed. The training curriculum will focus on two areas use of force and the use of less than lethal force. The use of force curriculum will address deadly force and any other type force, other than deadly force. The use of force may encompass hand to hand combat, the use of a patrol vehicle, impact weapon or any other weapon of opportunity.
The less than lethal training curriculum will cover any type weapons yester that is specifically designed to interrupt a violent act but not cause death. Many of these weapons systems are utilized by law enforcement agencies today. For example, agencies may use pepper spray, Taster, ASP baton, nightsticks, bean bag weapons system. All departmental officers will receive annual training on the specific type less than lethal weapons system they use or the system that the department requires.All applications and use of any type weapons system, deadly and non- deadly will follow the guidelines of the department policy and training which has incorporated the most recent Supreme Court decisions USE OF DEADLY FORCE AND LESS LETHAL POLICY AND TRAINING that relate to the use of force. Among the topics that the training curriculum will cover will be the use of force continuum. The current use of force continuum shall stand as is written and it appears to withstand Judicial muster.
The current use of force continuum has five (5) levels and options available to the officers.Those five levels are as follows. Also in the standard operating policy and procedure manual (SOP) the use of less than lethal force will be covered. As it stands currently, the less than lethal force s at levels 3, 4, 5, and 6 in the use of force continuum. A specific chapter in the SOP will define the critical situations in which less than lethal force may be used and the various types of less than lethal weapons systems that can be deployed. The less than lethal force weapons systems have been approved by the Chief of Police and incorporated in the SOP.Due to the many different and number of less than lethal force options, all of these systems cannot be covered in the research paper.
However, the options that are currently available to officers for this department are; pepper spray, Taster and ASP baton. All three of these weapons systems will be covered in the SOP and the officer will be trained on the specific system. Also, a use of force matrix will be used to explain the various situations in which less than lethal weapons systems may be deployed in conjunction with the use of force continuum.Once the training has been completed there will be an evaluation process in which the officer has to demonstrate proficiency with the weapons system as well as the understanding of the court decisions that affect each and every use of force incident. The evaluation process will consist of a working knowledge of the weapon system, referencing in the use of the weapons system and a written examination demonstrating an overall knowledge of the less than lethal weapons and the legal requirements as set forth in recent court decisions relating to the use of force.Upon successful completion of the evaluation process a training file with the results shall be maintained by the department on behalf of every officer. The departmental requirements for maintaining the training file is done to demonstrate for the court or during any other legal proceeding that the officer involved has shown competency in the use of less Han lethal weapons systems and a proper understanding of the law regarding use of force.
This training curriculum will help insulate the department when confronted with excessive use of force complaints and deadly force incidents in which a human life was taken.There are no fool proof methods for eliminating lawsuits and/or civil actions in a wrongful death case. However, having a training curriculum in which the officer has demonstrated competent use and understanding of the use of force and provide the agency with some meager defense at best. A detailed explanation of the raining program will be examined later in this essay. One consideration that must be given before developing and implementing a training program is to define the specific weapons arsenal for the department.Many agencies place limits and restrictions on the type and number of weapons a department will issue. Other departments will not enforce any restrictions and allow officers to use a multiple array of weapons system as long as the officer can demonstrate competence with the weapon.
In this agency we have elected to limit the number and variety of weapons and they have been broken down into four disgorges; firearms, impact weapons, chemical agents and electrical control device. The firearms selected for use in the department are sub-divided into three sub groups; handgun, shotgun and rifle.Handgun: the Clock model 29 . 40 caliber semi- automatic pistol is the hand gun of choice because it is the nationally accepted standard for law enforcement sidearm. Based on research and dependability the Clock weapons systems to be the most productive and reliable handgun for law enforcement. Shotgun: the Remington model 870 and the Mossberg 500 . 12 gauge shotgun are the two types of departmental issued shotgun.
The . 2 gauge shotgun has been the one constant in firearm selection for law enforcement for the past 100 years.It is a versatile and durable weapon that serves a multitude of tasks when deployed in the field. Rifle: all patrol officers will be issued the Colt AR-1 5 . 223 caliber rifle. This is a semi-automatic rifle that uses a high velocity round which provides the officer with additional firepower. The Justification for issuing patrol rifles is based on the current armament of violent offenders on the street today.
The addition of a patrol rifle will give the officer on the street equal footing in firepower when up against an armed Eileen offender.The impact weapons utilized by the department will be the standard 16″ inch ASP expandable baton. This is an impact weapon that will collapse for easy carry and can be drawn in a simple motion. The ASP baton provides the officer with an impact weapon in the event they are placed in a situation that requires the use of an impact weapon. The chemical agents the officer’s will carry depend on the manufacture pricing and Kelvin rating. Only chemical spray with a 110 degree rating will be used by the officers.This small but effective chemical spray can be carried on the patrol officer duty belt and retrieved in an instant.
The chemical agent affords the officer another option in the less than lethal weapons system. The electrical control device used by the department will exclusively be the [email protected] brand electrical control device. The [email protected] is similar to a handgun and is temporarily incapacitate a suspect. The [email protected] is a most effective alternative to deadly force and gives the officer another option of less than lethal weapon so that any type of deadly force will not have to be used.This device is one of the many advancements in law enforcement technology that gives the edge to a patrol officer hen encountering a violent suspect. The firearms training for the department will adhere to the State minimum guidelines and follow the suggested criteria for firearms training. However, the department standards will be higher in order to maintain the State standards.
Firearms training and the use of firearms are considered to be a high liability area for law enforcement. Due to this, special emphasis and care is taken in developing the firearms training.There are three phases of firearms training that have been incorporated into the department’s policy and every certified officer shall adhere and allow the policy regarding training. Firearms training will be divided into three different groups to provide the officers with an overall experience in firearms. The three different types of training that the officers will go through annually are range training, simulation training and firearms tactical simulation (F. A. T.
S. ) training. Range training will consist of annual qualification on the firing range using live ammunition.The offices will shoot the Georgia double action 30 round course of fire. This particular course of fire has been established by the Georgia Public Safety ratting center and USE OF DEADLY FORCE AND LESS LETHAL POLICY AND TRAINING adopted as the standard course of fire for law enforcement officers by the Georgia Peace Officers Standards and Training Council. The POST Council has mandated that in order to qualify, an officer must shoot the course with 70% accuracy. The department standard will be to utilize this course of fire but the minimum qualification will be with 80% for the department.
Simulation training will consist of running officers through live scenarios with active role players as suspects. The officer will be confronted with multiple situations ND may have to use deadly force. During the training scenarios the officer will be carrying live Simulation rounds. A Simulation round is similar to an actual round but it is filled with dye. When the bullet is discharged and impacts on the officer or the suspect, a marking will be left so the instructors can tell where the round hit the individual.This type of training is utilized because it places the officer in a real life scenario and under extreme stress while at the same time it allows the officer to have the feel and functionality of a real weapon. The scenarios will be evaluated and rated and the participating officer must have an 80% passing score to meet the department standard.
The final phase of the annual firearms training will be exposure to the Firearms Tactical Simulation machine or better known as F. A. T. S. The FATS program is a unique system for firearms training.