Use of Force in the Police Work
Police work is considered to be one of the most important for wellbeing of the whole society. The duties range from protection of citizens to upholding law and order in the society. One of the most important aspects of police work is the use of force - the situations and reasons for administering an amount of force specific to a situation.
The paper will address procedures and technical elements of the use of force model, as well as significance in decision making process of the police officers. Often, the critical part of the procedure must be carefully considered for a person to make a choice, so the psychology and understanding of the police officer must be analyzed and explained. As performance of their duties policemen are often isolated literary working alone, without a partner, the work must be greatly respected and aligned with the community. A careful examination and correlation between the incidents and arrests must be taken into account, so that a concrete way to establish the law and truth is created.
Police work is centered on the concept of law enforcement and the use of force. The policies clearly describe the levels and steps which outline the escalations of the use of force. A lot depends on the level of threat in a particular situation, but often, a police officer has to resort to his own judgment in deciding on the level of emergency. The paper will closely analyze the times when some steps in the process of application of force are inevitable, as well as consider the personal characteristics of a police officer which lead to skip preset steps. Law enforcement policies will also be examined, so as to understand the reasons for a specific procedure in application of force. Some issues will be reviewed in relation to stereotypes and prejudices which can be observed in the police and other governmental institutions. The critical factors will be determined, to clarify why specific actions are taken, as well as the reasons of violation of human rights which may occur in the due process.
The step by step use of force model follows a principle aligned to the use of communication and weapons in relation to the situation and the individual. The use of force model has several divisions: officer presence, communication, soft physical control, hard physical control, intermediate weapons and lethal force. It starts off with the perception and tactical considerations of the officer who analyzes the situation. The three points relating to the officers environment are to assess, plan and act according to circumstances. The perpetrator can be either cooperative, passive resistant, active resistant, assaultive or causing serious bodily harm or death. One of the most important things to consider in relation to the use of force is the communication between the police officer and the person in question. It is a significant part of the de-escalation procedure that is used most often.
The situation begins with the officer arriving on the spot and examining the surroundings. An officer must make sure that the perpetrator will not use any of the objects against him or her, so it is one of the steps in assessing the situation. Then, the officer will begin communication with the individual(s), finding out their relation to the scene and their personality. This step is important in assessment of the situation, further plan of action and the use of force. An officer must be able to analyze other people correctly, so that no mistakes are made. The use of force is a very sensitive issue because some cases deal with the use of lethal force, so it is extremely important for the officer to make a correct prediction and analyze beahviour of an individual in a particular situation (Dempsey & Forst, 2012).
There are several factors that relate to the use of force, policing and its effectiveness. The primary factor is the harm that is potential to the officer and the people around. The harmless bystanders are one of the primary concerns of an officer, so this fact plays one of the defining roles in the use of force models. It is a clear indication that police officers pay great attention to the health issues of others and are focused on bettering the safety of the community. The police have taken extra care and effort to increase the vigilance and enforcement of the laws. As mentioned above, safety in the community is of primary importance for the authorities. When an officer starts communication with the perpetrator or another person in question, it is key aspect is to understand their mentality. People’s willingness to cooperate shows that the public is determined to keep order, focused on helping and supporting each other. As police officers are the most direct and hands on force that deals with the public, they are the ones who are being heavily educated on the issue. It is clear that training must be vigorous. The police is permitted to use force, therefore, the decisions made must be based on the highest moral and lawful principles (Hawdon & Ryan, 2011).
It is also clear that the process of recruitment of personnel has to be very strict and detailed because permission to use force is greatly aligned with the individual and their willingness to understand another person and the situation. There are several strategies used in recruitment of new officers with a test of how a potential officer deals with stress being one of the most important components. Police officers must show patience and understanding, so that when a dangerous situation arises, they will not use power merely to scare or injure others. One of the other factors in training of officers in relation to the use of force is community familiarization where officers might visit local community centers, schools, employment workshops etc. This would ensure that the use of force will not be unreasonable and an officer could defend themselves in case a situation arises. It is also clear that the knowledge of psychology of a perpetrator is one of the core elements in the process. Some people might become nervous when a police officer arrives at the scene, so de-escalation techniques would be very useful in teaching officers how to talk to people and the suspects (Alpert, 2004).
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Police officers must let the public get to familiarize with them since this part relates to the mere presence of police officers in the use of force model. When people know that a police officer is present at the spot or near at hand, they will be much more hesitant to perform unlawful actions. Therefore, a team of psychologists must conduct a number of interviews with the potential officers to establish the nature of their views and predispositions towards law and crime. A major component in prevention of crime is incorporation of special courses into training of cadets where the officers to be are taught techniques how to use their authority and force in non lethal ways. This must be made mandatory and the lectures should be given in a clear and easy to comprehend manner, so that officers are not “trigger ready” when the slightest amount of danger arises. After graduating from the academy, the cadets must work with more skilled officers or supervisors who will guide them the first part of the way because field work is much different from the theory (Joyce, 2010).
Another aspect to consider is the post fact of the use of force; police officers will often spend a significant amount of time thinking about their actions and whether they were correct. As such, it is important that the use of force is justified and reasonably explained as this will show that no other avenues of actions could be taken, so there was no choice for the officer to use force. Lethal actions are never encouraged by the authorities, and this is one of reasons that the use of force model exists. It shows a number of steps that must be taken before an officer takes out his/her gun and points it at another person. Intermediate weapons, such as a baton or a tasers will aid a police officer, but are still considered to be weapons, so a careful analysis of the situation is required. Finally, it is up to the officer to make the final decision as safety is the primary concern for both the enforcer and the public (May & Headley, 2008).
Hence, the use of force is a delicate matter which depends on personality of the officer, another person(s) involved and the public since every situation is unique and the use of force must be reasonably justified.