Statistics by the United States department of justice conducted over a period of ten years indicate that about 1 police officer is killed in the line of duty in every five days; this is in addition to assaults. Hundreds of cases go either reported or unreported regarding the use of unreasonable force or what the media have christened police brutality.
Many people have admitted to living in the fear of police officers and most often than not would rather see a crime go unreported rather than come to terms with the prospects of coming face to face with a police officer. To them, the police force just comprises of a bunch of unreasonably brutal individuals.
These two illustrations are just meant to indicate the nature of the working conditions the police officers have to contend with in carrying out their duties. This kind of environment requires the officers to employ the use of force to ensure compliance, self-defense and persuasion. This is an accepted fact, although some of the methods employed are legally questionable (Howard Ralitz, 2003).
The stand of the law regarding the use of force by police centers on the objectiveness and reasonableness of such acts. It prohibits recklessness and malice in police officers. However, problem comes in the proper definition and measure of what can be considered as reasonable, as there is no universally accepted measure and as seen in legal cases, different courts ascribe varied meanings to these terms. Others would even go further and label the mere vicinity of a police officer as a form of intimidation.
The use of force matrix is just but broad guidelines on the reasonable force that can be applied in the process of discharging police officers’ duties. The basic assumption is that it will take a reasonable police officer to know the reasonable amount of force to be applied in a specific case. In the United States it is mandatory that police officers undergo a training that is in line with the provisions of the department On Police Safety Standards and Training (OPSST), which posits that law enforcers apply only the minimum possible force in fulfilling their duties (Dan M., 2004).