Use of force by law enforcement officers to accomplish a justifiable police function such as defending self and others, in making arrests, and other suitable actions in law enforcement is considered legitimate and lawful. However police officers have been charged in many occasions to have used excessive or unnecessary force either on suspects of crime or the general public.
- What are the constitutional limits to the use of force in law enforcement?
- What force options do the law enforcement personnel have in different situations that are permissible under the law?
- What are the measures to determine whether excessive or unnecessary force was used by a law enforcement officer?
What measures can be put in place to ensure that the right of every citizen is protected in the use of force in law enforcement?
The constitutional limit to use of force in law enforcement is defined in the 1989 Supreme Court decision on the case of Graham v. connor. This gives the constitutional evaluation of cases involving use of force in law enforcement (The Performance Institute, 2010). This can also be adopted from the principles on the use of force and firearms by law enforcement personnel laid down by Eighth UN Congress on the prevention of crime and the treatment of offenders in Havana in 1990 (United Nations, 1990).
Literature review cont
The Graham case also makes it clear on the occasions when force could be used in law enforcement such as when the suspect poses a threat to the safety of officers and other members of the public and when a suspect intention is to escape to avoid arrest by officers. This also concluded that mainly it is the suspect who dictates whether an law enforcement officer applies force considering the short critical time period the officers has to determine whether force is necessary or not.
Bearing in mind the increase in cases of crime in the cities and metropolitan areas and the increase in charges of police brutality in our courts, it is necessary to understand the constitutional limits for the use of force by law enforcers. It is also important to outline the force options the officers have in different circumstances and the measures that can be put in place to protect every member of the public and officers from any harm and make recommendations.
- There is need for law enforcement agencies to acquire new technologies to help in the arrest of suspects without the need to employ force example those that can stop cars in traffic offenses without need to pursue them thereby reducing the risk of death or injuries the officers, suspects and the general public.
- Improve the training of officers as the use of unnecessary or excessive force is more often as a consequence of poor judgment by the officers. Ethical issues in the conduct of police officers are also necessary in the training.
- Definition of terminologies in the law enforcement should be employed correctly and be clearly understood by both the enforcers and the public
The Performance Institute (2010). The Use of Force in Law Enforcement: Develop and Execute Proven Policies and Procedures for Use of Force in Your Agency. Web.
Spector, E. B. (2001). Emerging Legal Issues in Law Enforcement Technologies. Web.