Master of Arts
Law enforcement officers experience dynamic and sometimes dangerous encounters while performing their duties. To combat this, society gives them the authority to use reasonable force to accomplish their lawful objectives and law enforcement agencies provide them the tools and the training to effectively manage the incident. The use of force by law enforcement officers is guided by factors locally, state-wide, and nationally through policy, statute, and regulation. Law enforcement administrations have an impact on the use of force by an organization’s members through formal means such as policy, and informal means such as organizational culture. Administrative views are guided by internal and external factors including legislation, regulations, mission, ethics, and stakeholders. Officers’ duties are frequently guided by codified structures, such as statute and policy, but they must use discretion to fill in the blanks of how to act when not explicitly dictated. It is within these blanks that a robust ethical framework is critical to ensure the officer’s actions reflect the values of the organization and the profession. Perhaps the entity with the most impact on the use of force by law enforcement is the court system through case law. This paper will review how these different factors impact the use of force by law enforcement, and specifically, the use of electronic control weapons.