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Capacity to Use Force as the Core of the Police Role (From Police and Society: Touchstone Readings, P 127-138, 1995, Victor E. Kappeler, ed. - See NCJ-151401)

NCJ Number
E Bittner
Date Published
12 pages
Society recognizes three legitimate forms of responsive force: that used in self-defense, that authorized to certain types of professionals (i.e., mental hospital attendants) entrusted to proceed coercively against specifically named persons, and that instituted in the form of a police force.
There are also three formal limitations of the freedom of policemen to use force, including restrictions on the use of deadly force, the use of force by officers to advance personal objectives, and the use of malicious or frivolous force. However, this author argues that because there are no guidelines or specific range of objectives that police officers must adhere to when applying force, these three limitations have virtually no practical consequences. Society has also failed to develop any criteria that would allow the judgement of whether a given forceful intervention was necessary and proper; police actions involving the use of force are rarely reviewed or judged by any competent authority. The article concludes that the primary function of police intervention is to make use of the capacity and authority to overpower resistance to an attempted solution to any crime- or care-related problem. 6 notes