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Breakdown: Does Video Show Reasonable Force or Not?

Breakdown: Does Video Show Reasonable Force or Not?

Video Screen Capture

February 10, 2011

EXCERPT FROM THE NJ ATTORNEY GENERAL’S USE OF FORCE GUIDELINES:

“Physical force is employed when necessary to overcome a subject’s physical resistance to the exertion of the law enforcement officer’s authority, or to protect persons or property,” the guidelines say. “Examples include wrestling a resisting subject to the ground, using wrist locks or arm locks, striking with the hands or feet, or other similar methods of hand-to-hand confrontation.

“A law enforcement officer may use physical force or mechanical force when the officer reasonably believes it is immediately necessary at the time:

a. to overcome resistance directed at the officer or others; or

to protect the officer, or a third party, from unlawful force; or

c. to protect property; or

d. to effect other lawful objectives, such as to make an arrest.

“Deciding whether to utilize force when authorized in the conduct of official responsibilities is among the most critical decisions made by law enforcement officers. It is a decision which can be irrevocable. It is a decision which must be made quickly and under difficult, often unpredictable and unique circumstances.”

“Sound judgment and the appropriate exercise of discretion will always be the foundation of police officer decision-making in the broad range of possible use of force situations,” the policy says. “It is not possible to entirely replace judgment and discretion with detailed policy provisions.”

However, “law enforcement officers whose actions are consistent with the law and the provisions of this policy will be strongly supported by the law enforcement community in any subsequent review of their conduct regarding the use of force.”


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