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Documenting the use of force is difficult because these rapidly evolving events are physically and emotionally stressful. Reporting critical details accurately requires effective recall, note-taking, organization, and writing skills.
Reports must provide details that are clear, concise, accurate, and easy to understand. Reports that lack needed details are more likely to be taken out of context, attract unnecessary scrutiny, and generate litigation.
The use of force is not an exact science. U.S. Supreme and Circuit Court opinions view force as (1) a seizure under the 4th Amendment; and (2) a subjective decision made by officers on the scene using it.
Graham v. Connor
The calculus of reasonableness must allow for the fact that police officers must make split-second decisions in circumstances that are tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving.
The reasonableness of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight.
Tennessee v. Garner
Scott v. Henrich
Requiring officer to find and choose the least intrusive alternative would require them to exercise superhuman judgment. Imposing such a requirement would inevitable induce tentativeness by officers, and thus deter police from protecting the public and themselves.
The following concepts are unique and provided to assist users with reporting efforts. The use of force is a rapidly evolving circumstance with no two events identical. When force is used by offenders (resist) and officers (control), it involves the following three concepts: