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Encyclopedia > Use of force continuum

A use of force continuum is a standard that law enforcement officials (such as police officers or prison officers) with guidelines as to how much force may be used in a given situation. The purpose of these models is to clarify, both for officers and citizens, the complex subject of use of force by law officers. They are often central parts of law enforcement agencies' use of force policies. Although various criminal justice agencies have developed different models of the continuum, there is no universal standard model.[1] A police officer is a person who works for a police force. ... A prison officer is a person charged with the responsibility of the supervision of prisoners in a prison. ... A use of force doctrine is employed by police forces, as well as soldiers on guard duty, to regulate the actions of police and guards. ...

The first examples of use of force continua were developed in the 1980s and early 1990s.[2] Early models were depicted in various formats, including graphs, semicircular "gauges", and linear progressions. Most often the models are presented in "stair step" fashion, with each level of force matched by a corresponding level of subject resistance, although it is generally noted that an officer need not progress through each level before reaching the final level of force. These progressions rest on the premise that officers should escalate and de-escale their level of force in response to the subject's actions.[3] In engineering, a gauge is used to make measurements. ...

Although the use of force continuum is used primarily as a training tool for law officers, it is also valuable with civilians, such as in criminal trials or hearings by police review boards. In particular, a graphical representation of a use of force continuum is useful to a jury when deciding whether an officer's use of force was reasonable.[4] Criminal procedure refers to the legal process for adjudicating claims that someone has violated the criminal law. ... In law, a hearing is a proceeding before a court or other decisionmaking body or officer. ... Graphics are visual presentations on some surface such as a wall, canvas, computer screen, paper, or stone to brand, inform, illustrate, or entertain. ... For jury meaning makeshift, see jury rig. ...


Example model

This model is adapted from a United States government publication on use of force.[5] It lists multiple tactics in order from least to most severe, but is only a partial model, as it does not give corresponding degrees of subject resistance.

  • Verbal command
  • Handcuff suspect
  • Search suspect
  • Use wrist/arm lock
  • Use takedown
  • Block/punch/kick
  • Strike suspect
  • Wrestle suspect
  • Pepper spray
  • Use baton
  • Use firearm


  1. ^ Stetser, 2001, p. 36.
  2. ^ Stetser, 2001, pp. 36-37.
  3. ^ Stetser, 2001, p.38.
  4. ^ Grossi, 2006.
  5. ^ Garner and Maxwell.


  • Garner, Joel H.; Maxwell, Christopher D.. Measuring the Amount of Force Used By and Against the Police in Six Jurisdictions (PDF). National Institute of Justice. Retrieved on 2006-09-26.
  • Grossi, Mark (June 2, 2006). Setting the record straight on force continuums. The Police Marksman Magazine. Retrieved on 2006-11-25.
  • Stetser, Merle (2001). The Use of Force in Police Control of Violence: Incidents Resulting in Assaults on Officers. New York: LFB Scholarly Publishing L.L.C.. ISBN 1-931202-08-7.

2006 (MMVI) is a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... September 26 is the 269th day of the year (270th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 2006 (MMVI) is a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... November 25 is the 329th (in leap years the 330th) day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ...

External link

  • Law Enforcement Police Integrity - United States Department of Justice



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