Critical Issues: Use of Force

Critical Issues: Use of Force

Issue Overview

For decades, the IACP has played a central role in the research, development, and implementation of model policies and best practices regarding the use of force by law enforcement officers. Clearly, this issue is a critical one for both the law enforcement profession and the communities they serve. The IACP is committed to ensuring that officers respond to situations with the appropriate level of force. 

This page provides a  listing of IACP model polices and other publications that address issue related to law enforcement use of force.

Messaging Worksheet

The following messaging worksheet breaks down the topic of use of force, and provides key talking points and facts to assist you in your daily communications about the subject. This worksheet is exclusively available to IACP members.

Access the worksheet

Additional Resources

Collaborative Reform Initiative Technical Assistance Center (2018)

A partnership between the COPS Office, the IACP, and eight other law enforcement organizations, the Collaborative Reform Initiative Technical Assistance Center (CRI-TAC) advances the practice of community policing in law enforcement agencies by providing customized technical assistance to state, local, territorial, tribal, and campus agencies on a variety of topics.

Officer-Involved Shootings: A Guide for Law Enforcement Leaders (2016)

This guide is intended to provide guidance for preparing officers and departments prior to an officer-involved shooting, suggested incident scene actions and procedures, recommended procedures for conducting criminal and administrative investigations, suggestions for working with the media, and mental health and wellness considerations and procedures.

Officer-Involved Shootings Investigative Protocols (2014)

In response to the growing national concern about officer involved shooting incidents, IACP, in partnership with COPS Office released this guide for law enforcement leaders. The Guide looks closely at four critical policy areas: administrative investigation, criminal investigation, officer mental health/wellness considerations and informing the community/transparency.

Officer Involved Shooting Guidelines: IACP Psychological Services Section (2013)

In 2013, the IACP’s Police Psychological Services Section released a set of guidelines on how local agencies should engage/manage individual officers when an officer involved shooting occurs. Key points within the guidelines included: pre-incident preparation, at the scene of the incident, post-incident, the investigative period, and post-shooting interventions.

Emerging Use of Force Issues: Balancing Public and Officer Safety (2012)

Teaming up with the COPS Office, IACP held a symposium on emerging use of force issues in 2011 that resulted in this 2012 summary report. Recommendations stemming from the symposium addressed: public perception, factual documentation of incidents, managing force (chief’s duty), officer training post-academy, and officer mindset.

Law Enforcement Officers Killed by Felonious Assault in 2011 (2011)

In collaboration with the Bureau of Justice Assistance, IACP’s National Center for the Prevention of Violence against the Police took a look at use of force from another perspective, force used by suspects against the police. The report focused on types of encounters most likely to result in felonious assault and death: disturbances, arrest, ambush, traffic pursuit/stop, warrant service, investigating suspicious circumstances, and prisoner transport.

Police Chiefs Desk Reference (2008)

Working with the Bureau of Justice Assistance, IACP created the first ever ‘Police Chiefs’ Desk Reference’ modelled after the historic Physicians’ Desk Reference (PDR)—addressing every possible aspect of modern day policing and police leadership. Throughout the document, references to instituting best practice policies and training on all police performance issues- including use of force- are made.

Protecting Civil Rights: A Leadership Guide for State, Local, and Tribal Law Enforcement (2006)

In partnership with the COPS Office and the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, IACP took a look at numerous Federal Consent Decree and MOU actions involving local law enforcement agencies. Using the data from those investigations, IACP created a best practice guide on all aspects of policing.

Electro-Muscular Disruption Technology (2005)

In collaboration with the National Institute of Justice and the Montgomery County Police Department, IACP developed a nine-step strategy for effective deployment of this force technology. The report focuses on policies, training, and the role of police leaders in overseeing the acquisition and successful deployment of EMDT.

Police Use of Force in America (2001)

Partnering with the National Institute of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Statistics, IACP created and piloted the first ever national database on police use of force. Over a 36-month period, data was collected from a sample of 564 state and local law enforcement agencies. That data included 45,913,161 calls for service, 177,215 use of force incidents, and 8,082 use of force related citizen complaints.

Pepper Spray Evaluation Project (1995)

In collaboration with National Institute of Justice and the Baltimore County Police Department, IACP conducted a comprehensive study on outcomes and impact of pepper spray (oleoresin capsicum) as it was introduced for use across BCPD.



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