The use of force by police in arresting suspects sounds justifiable and necessary. However, we have to keep in mind that the use of force is not the only way to arrest suspects. There are also instances where suspects are cooperative and obedient. However, uncooperative suspects compel our police officers to use force during an arrest. At times, the use of force has resulted in injuries, or worse, fatalities. Therefore, we can’t help but ask, “What basic rules should police officers follow when arresting someone or trying to take control over a situation?”
Reasonable Use of Force
It is impossible to state the exact reasonable amount of force because the force needed in each arrest varies depending on the situation. Thus, police officers have the responsibility to discern the situation, use their thinking abilities, and respond accordingly. Generally, there are three types of suspects during arrest: the compliant, the resistant, and the assaultive.
How will the police deal with these suspects safely and appropriately? Preparation is always the key. Usually, police officers undergo psychological testing before hiring. This step is vital since a law enforcement officer is expected to face stressful situations and need to make quick decisions under pressure. They also undergo proper training through drills. These drills provide excellent training on how to deal with different types of behaviors. Here’s a summary of these drills: with compliant behavior, they can respond by using cooperative controls; if the suspect is resistant, the police officer can use contact control; but if the suspect is aggressive, the police officer can use defensive tactics or deadly force. The training will guide our law enforcement officers to use force reasonably.
Ideally, an arrest should be accomplished without exerting force. But at times, police officers are compelled to use the deadly or lethal approach. If a police officer has reasonably discerned and believed that the suspect poses a valid threat, either to themselves or others, deadly force must be used, and this includes the use of weapons.
How Much is Too Much?
Now, this is where the controversy comes in. How much force is too much force? How far is too far? What is too much for one person may be tolerable to others. We hear about injuries and fatalities due to police use of force in arresting suspects. There are also several citizen groups who voice out their opposition against the way the police use force. We may even have friends who have experienced a violent arrest.
It is therefore vital for law enforcement officers to exercise sound judgment. Aside from drills and training, what else will help them become reasonable in implementing the use of force? Police officers must always remember to employ just enough force to protect themselves and the public.