International Journal of Police Science & Management Volume: 14 Issue: 4 Dated: Winter 2012 Pages: 285-298
This paper reports the findings of a survey questionnaire administered by the authors to 295 sworn, active police officers across the USA regarding their experiences related to the use of force.
Reports often claim a widespread use of excessive force on the part of American law enforcement officers. Although documented cases of excessive force do occur, this presumption of widespread force may be overstated. This paper reports the findings of a survey questionnaire administered by the authors to 295 sworn, active police officers across the USA regarding their experiences related to the use of force. The results of the current study indicate that approximately 70 percent of the police officers sampled had been in a situation where they could have legally used their firearm but chose not to. Furthermore, police officers exercised restraint in deadly force in 93 percent of the situations in which they could have legally fired their weapon. Rather than an excessive use of force on the part of these officers, great restraint on their part was displayed. The interchange between the law enforcement officer and the offender in high-risk situations in which deadly force can be used legally and ethically is complex, dynamic and rapidly changing. To understand why officers in these situations very frequently choose not to use deadly force is examined within the context of 'the deadly mix'. (Published Abstract)
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