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NCJ Number: 173165 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Warning Shots Revisited
Journal: Law and Order  Volume:46  Issue:4  Dated:April 1998  Pages:96-99
Author(s): D E Mulroy; J Santiago
Date Published: 1998
Page Count: 4
Sponsoring Agency: NCJRS Photocopy Services
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
Sale Source: NCJRS Photocopy Services
Box 6000
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
United States of America
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article examines the danger, value, and legality of the police use of warning shots to gain compliance from a suspect.
Abstract: Many police departments have had a policy against warning shots for years. Such a policy is due to the concern that a warning shot may be misplaced and result in unintended injury or death to a suspect or bystander. On the other hand, there is evidence that a safely placed warning shot can shock a suspect into compliant behavior that precludes shooting the suspect. Thus, warning shots may prevent injury or death rather than cause it. In reviewing dozens of cases in which officers or civilians fired a warning shot, the authors found the shots were effective in the vast majority of cases, and no further shots were fired. Case after case showed that criminals ceased to flee and surrendered, even though they had committed serious crimes. In the cases where warning shots were fired, the arrests remained valid; and the courts were not concerned about the use of warning shots. Research shows that warning shots have resulted in little legal litigation. If an officer's option is to fire a safely placed warning shot or shoot to kill or incapacitate a suspect, the option of the warning shot is less likely to lead to a civil action against the department. Perhaps it is time to look at the possible use of warning shots in certain cases in which it would be an alternative to injury or death.
Main Term(s): Police weapons use
Index Term(s): Firearms; Lawful use of force; Police policies and procedures; Police use of deadly force
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