Excessive Force

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The Use of Police Force

Police officers in today’s society are given a significant amount of discretion simply due to the nature of the job. These officers are often faced with many threatening situations forcing them to react quickly and properly. They have the power to infringe upon any citizen's rights to freedom and therefore they must use this power within the limits of the law. One major concern with the amount of discretion an officer has is their ability to decide when to or not to use lethal force while apprehending a subject. Manning (1997:295) argues that it is generally accepted that police should be allowed to use force when necessary. He also goes on to explain that there is an uncertainty amongst citizens as to what constitutes excessive force. The link between what is necessary and what is extreme is very marginal. The use of force is no doubt one widely debated aspect in policing; however, excessive force should also be used with great discretion. If officers do not use force on every suspect they encounter, then they may be creating a negative environment for the community.
As defined by David Allender (2004:18-19), community policing is a philosophy of full-service, custom-made policing where the same officer patrols and works in the same area on a mandatory basis, from a decentralized place, working in a proactive partnership with citizens of that community to identify and solve problems as a team. The most important factors pertaining to community policing include personalization, partnership, and problem-solving (Allender, 2004:19). The main objective is to create a relationship with citizen’s that is trustworthy and respecting of one another. When officers begin to use force to control the community, the citizens of that community begin to view these officers as authority figures instead of service officers that are there to protect…...

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