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What is excessive force?

On Behalf of | Mar 26, 2022 | Civil Rights

When you think of the ideal police force, you may think of one that serves, protects and never uses excessive force on civilians. Unfortunately, excessive force remains a controversial topic, with many officers violating a person’s constitutional rights.

How can you determine excessive force? The National Institute of Justice explains no specific definition for excessive force. When excessive force allegations come up, courts have to consider other pieces of evidence like context and constitutional rights violations.

Types of force

there are various types of force. Police may use verbal restraint, physical restraint, less-lethal and lethal force. Less-lethal force may include tools such as pepper spray, tasers and other devices. When an officer uses verbal force, he or she gives commands in a non-threatening way. As the situation progresses, cops can shorten the commands and speak louder.

An officer may also have permission to use soft techniques, like grabbing or holding an individual. Hard techniques, on the other hand, include punching or kicking. Officers should always respond to a situation with reasonable force.

Rules of force

Context matters in terms of force. Generally, an officer can use force to regain control of a situation or to protect others and him or herself. Police should not use force without consideration. Force should remain a last resort and a necessary course of action. If a person becomes injured because of an officer’s force, the police must call for medical aid and inform the family.

In many cases, if there were other means to control a situation or restore safety, then the use of force becomes excessive.