Use-of-Force Constitutional Standards versus Force Continuum

Use-of-Force Constitutional Standards versus Force Continuum
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1 Resources
Recorded on: 2019-07-31
Unit 1 Slide Deck: Use-of-Force Constitutional Standards versus Force Continuum
Unit 2 Workbook: Use-of-Force Constitutional Standards versus Force Continuum
Unit 3 Recording: Use-of-Force Constitutional Standards versus Force Continuum

Different factors come into play in use of force incidents. However, a thorough understanding between use of force standards and force options, coupled with an approach that begins with the end in mind can make all the difference in the outcome of these cases.

To dissect the use of force standards and options and other considerations that law enforcement officers must familiarize with when faced with a use of force complaint is John G. Peters. John is the President and Chief Learning Officer of the Institute for the Prevention of In-Custody Deaths (IPICD). He played various roles in his law enforcement career including being a law enforcement officer, administrator, and deputy sheriff. Regarded as an expert in the field, he’s conducted law enforcement training, served as a consulting expert in cases,  wrote numerous publications, and created several educational content.

Some of the things John unpacked on this course include:

  • The growing scrutiny of the public towards law enforcement officers.
  • The demand for better accountability and transparency and how technology is able to deliver this.
  • The goal of use of force and terms related to it that must be clearly defined in training, policies, and procedures.
  • Distinguishing deadly from non-deadly force based on the intent and risk.
  • The four categories/status of individuals that law enforcement deal with on their shift.
  • Understanding the Federal Civil Rights Act as the foundation of the type of interaction law enforcement may have with any individual.
  • The Fourth Amendment that protects people from search and seizure and how it relates to excessive use of force.
    • Evaluation parameters that consider the perspective of a reasonable officer, the totality of the situation, and objective reasonableness.
    • Two case examples – Graham v Connor and Kingsley v. Hendrickson – that demonstrate how the court heard and decided on the cases.
  • The Fourteenth Amendment which tests the officer’s deliberate indifference.
  • The Eighth Amendment that looks into the conditions an individual is subjected to, the proportionality of the use of force applied to the threat made, and the extent of the injury inflicted.
  • The different force options that an officer may use in accordance with the force standards that apply to the incident.
  • What use of force continuums are and how they were devised to compensate for the lack of guidelines on the use of force.
  • The problem experienced with use of force continuums due to misunderstandings on its proper application.
  • The importance of familiarizing with jury instructions in use of force cases to understand the elements that the jury consider when making their decisions and what can potentially incriminate an officer.
  • Topics addressed during the Q&A segment were:
    • Approaching command staff to integrate the definitions discussed into training and policies.
    • How use of force standards apply to probation and parole personnel.
    • Improving report writing through a list of major points to go through and include.
    • How officer tenure and experience typically affects the handling use of force incidents.
    • Defenses for deliberate indifference in cases of understaffing or overcrowding.
    • Practicing caution in social media use for law enforcement officers.
    • The order in which Graham factors are applied.


Audience Comments

  • “The clarification on Force Standards, the difference between Force Options and the need to move away from Force Continuums were 3 great takeaways.” — Alane
  • “Much needed and refreshing review of understanding of the Use of Force principles along with the supporting explanations, applications, clarification, interpretation of the varied standards relative to the Use of Force principles.” — Al
  • “Constitutional issues surrounding the use of force. Excellent updated information. Thanks much.” — Ben
  • “Using Graham v. Connor standards as a guide to write the police reports on the use of force. Also emphasis on detail in the reports as to how and why force was used. Need to justify each individual blow, taser activation, shot, etc.” — Dean
  • “Use of Force is a subject that I deal with as a Crime Analyst. However, I don’t receive much training on the subject because I am not a sworn officer so I liked the information disseminated during this webinar.” — Ken
  • “Dr. Peters is well respected and the information was excellent.” — Truman


Additional Resources
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