Police use of deadly force: Research and reform

Justice Quarterly (Impact Factor: 1.63). 01/1988; 5(2):165-205. DOI: 10.1080/07418828800089691

ABSTRACT Police use of deadly force first became a major public issue in the 1960s, when many urban riots were precipitated immediately by police killings of citizens. Since that time scholars have studied deadly force extensively, police practitioners have made significant reforms in their policies and practices regarding deadly force, and the United States Supreme Court has voided a centuries-old legal principle that authorized police in about one-half the states to use deadly force to apprehend unarmed, nonviolent, fleeing felony suspects. This essay reviews and interprets these developments.

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    ABSTRACT: When the police use deadly force, their actions are judged by the reasonableness standard. This article seeks to inform the reasonableness standard by examining the ability of police officers to respond to armed suspects. The results of a reaction time experiment are presented. In this experiment, police officers encountered a suspect armed with a gun, pointing down and not at the police officer. The police officer had his gun aimed at the suspect and ordered the suspect to drop the gun. The suspect then either surrendered or attempted to shoot the officer. The speed with which the officer fired if the suspect chose to shoot was assessed. Results suggest that the officers were generally not able to fire before the suspect. Implications for the reasonableness standard and policy are discussed.
    Police Quarterly 12/2011; 14(4):323-343. · 0.68 Impact Factor
  • Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology 01/1993; 9(1):20-33.
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    ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study is to examine the effect of organizational policy changes within the Use-of-Force Continuum on taser usage and officer's perceptions of taser effectiveness. Tasers have been used by police since the 1970s and their use is increasing as the technology has improved. Data reveals that tasers are beneficial for controlling non-compliant suspects while preventing serious injuries and rarely has their use resulted in death. Much of the public controversy surrounding tasers centers on when and how often officers deploy them. Use of force data from 890 police citizen encounters during a two-year period was analyzed to examine how changes in organizational policy have affected taser deployments and how policy changes have affected taser use. The study's findings support that after the policy change, the frequency of taser use by officers decreased, while the levels of suspect resistance encountered by officers increased. The frequency and severity of suspect injuries did not change and the numbers of officers injured in use-of-force encounters also did not change. Survey response data from officers were compared to archival data, which revealed that while officers perceive an increased risk of harm to themselves as a result of the organizational policy change that was not supported in the findings. Officers did not perceive an increased risk of harm to suspects which was supported in the archival data findings. Officers also expressed a belief that the organizational change that placed the taser at a higher level on the Use-of-Force Continuum is appropriate for most use-of-force encounters. This study concludes with future directions and trends for taser use in law enforcement.