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Training Options and CategoriesCorrections / Court Security  << back

Use of Force: Policy, Practice and Legal Considerations

Length of Seminar: 2 Days
Instructor: Richard Lober

Law enforcement and corrections officers are given legal authority to stop, detain, and, with probable cause, arrest persons who are reasonably believed to have committed crimes. Unlike most private citizens, officers are also legally authorized to use force in the course of effecting arrests, preventing criminals from escaping, and protecting others, including the officer. There is no singular approach to the type of force which may be necessary for every situation. However, increasing scrutiny from the public, the media, and external government agencies dictate that agencies insure that an officer’s use of force is appropriate and justifiable based upon both departmental standards and constitutional standards. This is particularly true when deadly force is used. Use of force incidents can be subject to multiple layers of review by the department, the local prosecutor, the federal government, civilian review boards, civil litigation, the media and the public. Understanding the legal standards for use of force, the policy considerations that govern such incidents, and the dynamics that occur when a use of force incident is thrust into heightened scrutiny, are essential to promote a professional law enforcement agency that desires to protect its officers, the public, and also maintain the support of the community.

Seminar Goals:

  • To inform the attendees of the various types of use of force, both lethal and non-lethal, and the legal issues surrounding each type of use of force incident.
  • To inform the attendees of professional standards and policies regarding use of force incidents, including reporting requirements.
  • Attendees will learn the legal standard for the use of deadly force and its practical application to such incidents.
  • To inform the attendees of the diminishing application of a use of force continuum.
  • To inform the attendees of the different types of reviews involving use of force incidents, including but not limited to, administrative review, criminal investigation, federal civil rights investigation, civilian reviews and civil litigation.
  • To inform the attendees of the importance of gathering and securing evidence related to a use of force incident, including statements, physical evidence, video evidence, etc.
  • The attendees will learn the 5th Amendment protections of certain statements made by an officer during an investigation of a use of force incident. Attendees will also learn the constitutional implications of statements made by witness officers and civilian witnesses.
  • To acquaint the attendees with practical problems that may confront a supervisor/investigator who is handling a use of force incidents. Examples include: preparation of the report; access to a union representative; access to any departmental audio/video prior to making any statement.
  • To acquaint the attendees with the media impact on use of force incidents, particularly those involving the use of force which result in a death.
  • To acquaint the attendees with the social media impact on use of force incidents/investigations and policy development related to body cameras and video of such incidents.
  • To acquaint attendees regarding the potential civil liability of an officer, supervisor and/or department for actions such as negligent retention, failure to train, failure to supervise, etc.
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