As citizens, we depend on police and law enforcement to protect our rights and personal safety. We expect them to treat us fairly and with respect as human beings even when we are accused or suspected of wrongdoing. Officers of the law are held to a high standard of behavior as they are entrusted with a wide birth of authority in the commission of their duties to the public. When police break their agreement to act in a responsible manner and use excessive force in a situation, they damage the public connection, endanger the lives and well-being of their victim and themselves, and cost the county money in administrative and legal proceedings.
Objectively Reasonable Physical Force
Police and law enforcement officers of all type are trained to use a reasonable amount of physical force to subdue and apprehend a subject. Graham V. Connor (490 U.S. 386), a 1989 Supreme Court case, allotted one of the milestone decisions pertaining to law enforcement use of force. It created a national standard still used today. SCOTUS clearly stated the use of force by law enforcement on private citizens will be evaluated as a seizure under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. This includes use of force that is deadly or nondeadly. Every arrest, course of arrest, investigatory stop and any seizure of a private citizen are analyzed under the Fourth Amendment’s objective reasonableness standard as opposed to a substantive due process standard. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States protects American citizens against unreasonable search and seizure by the U.S. government and its agents. One of the important precedent set forth by Graham V. Connor is the understanding that police make the decision to use force and how much to use in a split-second during a rapidly evolving and potentially life-threatening situation.