Introduction of Law Enforcement Officer Use of Excessive Force

Published: 2022-12-16
Introduction of Law Enforcement Officer Use of Excessive Force
Type of paper:  Research paper
Categories:  Management Research Analysis Law Medicine
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1186 words
10 min read

There are ever rising incidents of officer-involved deaths or injuries stemming from past interactions between law enforcement officers and citizens. Recently, the problem has shown its real manifestation particularly between the police (authoritative majorities) and racial minorities (Smith & Holmes, 2014). Whereby, in case of interaction between the two, the police sometimes kill or maim the unarmed civilians either using non-lethal or lethal arms. Law enforcers also use excessive force to protect themselves from harm which has made the public to have a negative perception towards the police.

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Reasonable force and Use of Excessive Force

Reasonable force is basically the force required to protect oneself or perhaps one's properties. It the amount of force perceived by a reasonable person to be necessary to make the trespasser leave (Desmond et al., 2016). For several decades, the relationships between police and the citizen especially those from the racial/ ethnic minorities have been worse. According to some researchers like Carter, the relationship between these two entities has been like a swinging pendulum (Ariel et al., 2016). Excessive force may manifest in different contexts for instance, when dealing with the prisoners, or during a military operation, rioting or public employees which can threaten the national security (Ariel et al., 2016). In such circumstances, law enforcement officers are legally entitled to use the maximum amount of force necessary to sustain or diffuse the situation or defend their lives. From various institutions like the Civil Rights Movement, Public protests, and the war on criminal activities like drug trafficking, the police-citizen relationships have nursed serious wounds of mistrust.

Facts and figures about police use of excessive force

Although there is no clear statistical reports and data by National Data Collection on Police Use of Force- Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2018, Amnesty International collected a comprehensive data mapping police violence on the public. On estimation, about 1,147 killings by officers were seen in 2017 ("2017 Police Violence Report", n.d.). From this estimation, 92% of the killings were done through shooting, physical force, Tasers and even using police vehicles. Basing on the video recordings that captured the incidents, the Agency indicates that they identified officers in almost 569 cases, out of which 48 officers had killed before and 12 officers out of them had multiple killings ("2017 Police Violence Report", n.d.). They further indicated that most killings were instigated by the police responses on suspected non-violent responses. In fact, these individuals had no prior crime reports.

A notable case of use of excessive force

Taking the incident of Andrew Thomas, a twenty-six-year-old US national, on 25 November 2015 was driving while drunk and caused accident, his wife died on the spot. While he was getting from the car, a Paradise, California police identified as Patrick Feaster fired a shot at him, hitting him in the neck (Stickle, 2016). The victim died that very December from the injuries caused by that gunshot. Later own the police was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

Laws that protect people from the use of excessive force

Police Act 2016, the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) and Police Officer Standards and Training Council, have established specified lists of technical minimal use of force (Stickle, 2016). The Act not only prohibits officers from the use of excessive force in specified scenarios, but it also prohibits police from carrying out activities like recordings with body cameras, allows agencies to discard or rather withhold some images from the public and requires succinct and developed guidelines on data retention and equipment use. Furthermore, the public can be protected from the using excessive force by the Criminal Justice Acts and Public Acts regarding the same. Use of force Policy also outlines various ways in which police is not allowed to use excessive force.

Approaches to addressing the law enforcement officers Use of excessive force

First, although prior efforts to curb the incidents of law enforcers-involved injuries/deaths have resulted in a great controversy, various researchers like Stickle (2016), has prescribed that efforts of increasing training and education are generally beneficial. Also use of force continuum can help a great deal. Secondly, the system should adopt 'use of force policy' with the wide and comprehensive parameters on how the use of excessive force can be dealt with (Stickle, 2016). The other factor to remedy the problem is the enforcement of 'use of force database.' This is a vital component for future reference making and research undertaking. Facts show that the FBI is perfecting the art over time through a collection of national data on the use of force incidents. This database allows and presents the researchers with an appropriate and substantial amount of use of force data to help conduct more research on the subject area.

Evolution of historical perception of the issue

Over the years there has been the absence of a universally binding institution of rules that defines the use of force in the United States in particular. This has led to the myriads of problems in policy formulations, training, and implementation because not a single person knows the definition of the concept (Smith & Holmes, 2014). This has brought lots of confusion in the various police departments since each one of them embraces the types of training and techniques they deem fit in relation to the use of force. Use of excessive by police has raised the fundamental question of 'police legitimacy'. Albeit several police departments have enforced the use of force training and policies, the underlying problem is the lack of a common curriculum of training (Stickle, 2016). As a result, there is a difference in the content, duration, and quality based on the department. The ever-rising waves of media and public yet another factor that has evolved over time. It has deteriorated straining police-citizens relations (Desmond et al., 2016). For example, the media platforms have made the police to be judged and prosecuted in the courts of public opinion, thus painting the officers and the entire system in the negative light and the public can only see the bad aspects.


The main objective of the research was to assess the dynamics surrounding the use of excessive force by the law enforcers in relation to the Criminal Justice System and the society at large. The paper has given a brief but comprehensive description of the problem within the system its impacts and reason for addressing it. The paper also addresses the evolution of this historical strained relationships with various facts and figures and finally the public perception regarding the problem.


Ariel, B., Sutherland, A., Henstock, D., Young, J., Drover, P., Sykes, J., ... & Henderson, R. (2016). Wearing body cameras increases assaults against officers and does not reduce police use of force: Results from a global multi-site experiment. European journal of criminology, 13(6), 744-755.

Desmond, M., Papachristos, A. V., & Kirk, D. S. (2016). Police violence and citizen crime reporting in the black community. American Sociological Review, 81(5), 857-876.

Smith, B. W., & Holmes, M. D. (2014). Police use of excessive force in minority communities: A test of the minority threat, place, and community accountability hypotheses. Social Problems, 61(1), 83-104.

Stickle, B. (2016). A National Examination of the Effect of Education, Training and Pre-Employment Screening on Law Enforcement Use of Force. Justice Policy Journal, 13(1), 1-15.

2017 Police Violence Report. Retrieved from

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