Free Essay: New Jersey Use of Force Policy

Published: 2023-09-20
Free Essay: New Jersey Use of Force Policy
Essay type:  Analytical essays
Categories:  United States Police Police brutality Essays by pagecount
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1405 words
12 min read

In New Jersey, law enforcement departments have been granted authority to apply force when required to achieve lawful ends. The authority is based on the responsibility of each officer to follow the regulations of the State of New Jersey concerning the application of force while complying with its provision (Murphy & Oliver, 2018). The officers is guided by its requirements on the extent of force, and the justifiable conditions like exhausting all the alternative means before applying force. The policy provides that the officers will use force only when it is reasonably objective and necessary. This review will analyze the New Jersey Use of Force Policy’s sufficiency, process, strengths and weaknesses, and recommendations for improvement.

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Standard Operation Procedure for the New Jersey Use of Force Policy

Use of Force

An officer is allowed to apply mechanical force only when they believe it is justifiable and when they need to; overpower resistance towards them, or others, defend an officer, or another party, shield properties, or achieve other legal aims, like making an arrest (Murphy & Oliver, 2018).

Use of Deadly Force

The law enforcer can use excessive force in a case where such an action is required for self-defense or defending other individuals from a probable danger of fatalities or severe harm ‌(New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice, n.d.). Alternatively, they may use force to stop an escaping suspect, provided the law enforcer has probable cause to believe that the suspect has perpetrated delinquency or attempted to cause fatal bodily harm or death, or, a suspect is susceptible to causing imminent fatalities should they escape and when such application of is not likely to cause harm to innocent individuals. However, officers must first identify themselves and the intention of shooting.

Restrictions on the Use of Deadly Force

Officers are restricted from using deadly force in cases where there exists an alternative that can eliminate probable fatalities posed by a suspect, and achieve the purpose without increasing the risk to an officer or other individuals (Murphy & Oliver, 2018). Alternatively, an officer cannot use deadly force to vanquish individuals whose actions are destructive to the property alone. In cases where the suspect is only harmful to themselves, the officers should not use deadly force. The officers are also barred from discharging a firearm in case of a moving vehicle, as it increases the risk to innocent individuals, unless in instances where an officer believes that there exists a probable danger of fatalities to other individuals, and where there lack alternative means to alleviate the threat. As such, they are barred from using a firearm to disable a moving vehicle solely (Murphy & Oliver, 2018).

Exhibiting a Firearm

An officer is restricted from upholstering or exhibiting a gun unless it is for maintenance, securing or shooting range, training, and practicing (Murphy & Oliver, 2018). They are allowed to discharge firearms when the circumstances create a reasonable belief that it might be necessary to use a gun.

Legal Sufficiency

Recent events and incidents within the United States regarding the use of force by the law enforcers have increasingly caused a public uproar. The most recent event is the death of George Floyd. As such, the State of New Jersey had developed regulation necessary to deter officers from using such force (Hoffman, 2015). The law is legally sufficient since it lays down procedures that officers should follow before deciding to use excessive force. They are required to examine and enhance their practice and process to warrant that force is steered thoroughly, expeditiously, and neutrally when dealing with civilians. To strengthen such legality, all the investigations in determining whether an officer used excessive force is not conducted by the police agencies but by the Division of Criminal Justice or the County Prosecutor.

Additionally, in determining the necessity of such an application of deadly force, the decision is not subject to the officer but multiple levels of independent reviews. For example, to determine whether the use of lethal force is lawful, a team of grand jury comprising 23 citizens, must be presented with the circumstances that led to the incident (Hoffman, 2015). However, despite being among the most stringent, and most comprehensive within the United States, it is essential to reinforce the investigative principles and procedures to guarantee that they are followed consistently across the state.

Strengths and weaknesses of the policy

Some of the strength includes that it will inspire confidence among the civilians toward the police since the decision to use force is a collaborative process. The law introduces stringent and comprehensive guidelines towards the use of force, such that racially biased law enforcers, those pursuing other personal interests, and those with misjudged perception can no longer use their authority carelessly. It also enhances the service the officers are employed for, i.e., protecting the citizens and not scaring, executing, or causing severe harm. Some of the weaknesses include, with the increased level of technology, officers may misjudge the level of danger posed by a suspect, leading to misconstrued action. Additionally, the lengthy process of determining the threat posed may cause more harm to the innocent public. Lastly, the reduced police authority may empower some criminals resulting in an upsurge of crimes.

Suggestions for Improvement Less-Than-Lethal Force Technologies Examples

The use of less than lethal force has been proven to be effective and cause less bodily harm to civilians and suspects than lethal force. For example, the use of less than deadly bullets, incapable of penetrating the suspect's flesh, has been seen only to cause temporary unconsciousness instead of death. These bullets are developed under the technological advancement of the ammunition with guidelines like targeting only one suspect at a time and specific distance (New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, 2010). They are also designed to be deployed from a 37-40mm rifled bore system, a paintball, or a 12mm gauge shot-gun (New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, 2010). Other technology may include the use of pepper sprays (Garner & Maxwell, 1999). Research suggests that this method effectively controls disorderly suspects and reduces injuries to both the officer, suspects, and any other third party. Additionally, data shows that the use of conducted energy methods, such as Taser ‌ (U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs, n.d.), can also minimize the injuries compared to other less than lethal options like baton and fists. Proper training of each is critical.


The provision of the revised regulation was an invention of the collaborative effort and judgment of the New Jersey Use of Force Advisory Committee. Each committee member delivered conscious and meticulous ideas to achieve an accord in such a sensitive area and focus on the importance of improved relationships between civilians and law enforcers. As such, stringent measures and guidelines were laid out to supplement the clarity of the existing guidance and prepare the officers better to react to various situations lawfully.

Credibility of Resources

Three of the sources are from the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice, New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs. They outline the policy's provisions, applicability, legality, strength, and approved methods and weaponry. Three of the sources are from credible independent researchers, further describing the revised provisions. All of the resources can be confirmed as scholarly articles using the links provided on each.


Garner, J. H., & Maxwell, C. D. (1999). Measuring the amount of force used by and against the police in six jurisdictions. Use of force by police: Overview of national and local data, 25-44.

Hoffman, J., J. (2015). Supplemental law enforcement directive amending attorney general law enforcement directive no.2006. Supplemental law enforcement directive regarding uniform statewide procedures and best practices for conducting police-use-of-force investigations.

Murphy, P., & Oliver, S. (2018). Attorney General Law Enforcement Directive No.2018-3; Statewide Mandatory Early Warning Systems. State of New Jersey Office Of the Attorney General Gouerr~or department of law and public safety.

New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice. (n.d.). Use of force. Attorney General's Use of Force Policy Www.State.Nj.Us.

New Jersey Office of the Attorney General (2010): 'Attorney General's Approved List of less-Lethal Ammunition' New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety.

‌ U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs (n.d.). Police Use of Force: The Impact of Less-Lethal Weapons and Tactics n Toward a Better Way to Interview Child Victims of Sexual Abuse Solving the Problem of Untested Evidence in Sexual Assaults. Retrieved September 10, 2019, from

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