A race to force the issue: a use-of-force doctrine in policing
Avelar, Tracy A.
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In response to public outrage over police use of force, Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) dedicated its Critical Issues Seminars to discussing use-of-force reform. From the seminars, PERF produced 30 guiding principles, which included best-practice policy recommendations that called for agencies to adopt standards that went higher than the Graham v. Connor standard of reasonableness in the eyes of the officer involved. The focus of this thesis was to study what the effect of going beyond current legal standards might have on use-of-force incidents in practice and in the public perception. It also looked to find whether the policy principles put forward could make policing safer for officers and the public they serve. The research showed there was serious debate over the applicability and understanding of PERF's policies. Experts felt the PERF policies should not be adopted as stand-alone policies and further context was required. PERF failed to define the problem it was attempting to solve and only created more confusion with its policy recommendations; no change to law or policy will make policing safer. This thesis recommends that law enforcement, anti-police advocates, and politicians work together to bridge the gap that is felt at every angle of the debate.
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