Essay Sample on Levels of Force

Published: 2021-07-02
661 words
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6 min to read
George Washington University
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Police officers use different types of force during their line of duty. The use of force by a police officer is acceptable in situations such as self-defense or defending another group or individual. Some examples of levels of force are the following,

Officer presence presence of officers is usually professional and non-threatening.

Verbalization here, the police use non-threatening or threatening commands to gain compliance.

Empty-handed control law enforcement uses bodily force such as joint locks, kicks, and punches to gain control of a person.

Lethal force police use deadly weapons such as firearms to control a situation.

Less-lethal force they use minor methods such as projectiles and chemical sprays to immobilize a person.

The similarity between the use of excessive force and excessive use of force by the police is that they both require effort to compel compliance by an unwilling suspect. Additionally, in both, either the individual or police might end up with serious injuries. Both affect public perception, for example, people might lose their trust in police officers. According to a research in United Kingdom by Grace et al. (2016), people who have lower levels of trust on the use of force by police officers are black and minority ethnic groups at 76%, young people aged 17-24 at 71%, and people who live in London at 69%. However, the study reveals that peoples concern about the frequency with which police use force is low apart from blacks who encounter police occasionally.

The legal impact of Tennessee v. Gardner on the use of deadly force by the police was that it affected the Fourth Amendment, state law, and local department policing. In the Supreme Court case, the ruling was that under the Fourth Amendment, when a law enforcement officer pursues a fleeing suspect, he or she must not use deadly force unless they have probable cause to believe that the suspect possesses a significant threat. The Tennessee police department had strict rules but still allowed the use of deadly force when pursuing fleeing suspects (Flanders and Welling, 2015). More so, authors affirm that it affected state laws and violated the Fourth Amendment in a way that states were free to expand their scope of criminal law.

The use of force by police officers has been reported on the news in many occasions. One in particular happed recently when a Texas police officer punched a 14-year-old girl in the face. The incident took place on 5/20/2017 when the girl was attending a quinceanera. The video has graphic images and the police officer not only throws one punch but several on the girl. One of his fellow officers even goes to an extent of restraining the girl while the other officer punches her. According to witnesses, what made the police officer hit her is unclear, but as the video depicts, the girl did not hit her back. From a personal perspective, the use of force was not necessary. The reason is that first, the victim is a girl, and more so, she is only fourteen. The police officer went overboard by taking matters in his hands.

There are legal standards put in place to govern the use of non-deadly force by police officers. Amnesty International (2015) indicates that the international standard requires that police officers should only use force when there are no other ways of achieving a legitimate objective and that the amount of force should be appropriate to minimize damage. Moreover, the standard emphasizes that the intentional use of firearms should be made strictly unavoidable to protect life.


Amnesty International. (2015). Deadly Force: Police use of Lethal Force in the United States.

Retrieved from

Flanders, C., and Welling, J. (2015). Police Use of Deadly Force: State Statutes 30 Years after

Garner. Saint Louis University Public Law Review, vol. xxxv, no. 109.

Grace et al. (2016). Police Use of Force: Evidence from Complaints, Investigations, and Public

Perceptions. Independent police Complaints Commission. Retrieved from

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