This policy provides guidelines on the reasonable use of force. While there is no way to specify the exact amount or type of reasonable force to be applied in any situation, every member of this Department is expected to use the guidelines to make such decisions in a professional, impartial and reasonable manner.
Definitions related to this policy include:
Deadly Force - Force reasonably anticipated and intended to create a substantial likelihood of causing death or very serious injury.
Force - The application of physical techniques or tactics, chemical agents or weapons to another person. It is not a use of force when a person allows him/herself to be searched, escorted, handcuffed, or restrained.
The use of force by law enforcement personnel is a matter of critical concern, both to the public and to the law enforcement community. Officers are involved on a daily basis in numerous and varied interactions and, when warranted, may use reasonable force in carrying out their duties.
Officers must have an understanding, and true appreciation for their authority and limitations. This is especially true with respect to overcoming resistance while engaged in the performance of law enforcement duties.
The NCC Department of Public Safety recognizes and respects the value of all human life and dignity without prejudice to anyone. Vesting officers with the authority to use reasonable force and to protect the public welfare requires monitoring, evaluation and a careful balancing of all interests.
When appropriate, officers shall attempt to “de-escalate” situations through the use of verbal techniques and demeanor. “De-escalation” can reduce the hostility of a situation and may reduce or remove the necessity to use physical force.
Any officer present and observing another officer using force that is clearly beyond that which is objectively reasonable under the circumstances shall, when in a position to do so, intercede to prevent the use of unreasonable force. An officer who observes another employee use force that exceeds the degree of force permitted by law should promptly report these observations to a supervisor.
Officers shall use only that amount of force that reasonably appears necessary given the facts and circumstances perceived by the officer at the time of the event to accomplish a legitimate law enforcement purpose.
The reasonableness of force will be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene at the time of the incident. Any evaluation of reasonableness must allow for the fact that officers are often forced to make split-second decisions about the amount of force that reasonably appears necessary in a particular situation, with limited information and in circumstances that are tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving.
Given that no policy can realistically predict every possible situation an officer might encounter, officers are entrusted to use well-reasoned discretion in determining the appropriate use of force in each incident.
It is also recognized that circumstances may arise in which officers reasonably believed that it would be impractical or ineffective to use any of the tools, weapons or methods provided by this Department. Officers may find it more effective or reasonable to improvise their response to rapidly unfolding conditions that they are confronting. In such circumstances, the use of any improvised device or method must nonetheless be reasonable and utilized only to the degree that reasonably appears necessary to accomplish a legitimate law enforcement purpose.
While the ultimate objective of every law enforcement encounter is to avoid or minimize injury, nothing in this policy requires an Officer to retreat or be exposed to possible physical injury before applying reasonable force.
A police officer or a peace officer may use reasonable physical force to effect an arrest or prevent escape (Penal Law 35.30).
When determining whether to apply force and evaluating whether an Officer has used reasonable force, a number of factors should be taken into consideration, as time and circumstances permit. These factors include, but are not limited to:
Use of deadly force is justified in the following circumstances:
Imminent does not mean immediate or instantaneous. An imminent danger may exist even if the subject is not at the very moment pointing a weapon at someone. For example, an imminent danger may exist if an officer reasonably believes any of the following: