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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 76407 Find in a Library
Title: New Politics of Deadly Force
Journal: Police Magazine  Volume:4  Issue:2  Dated:(March 1981)  Pages:6-11
Author(s): B Cory
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 6
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Efforts by police administrators, community groups, and prosecutors to adopt written policies on the police use of deadly force are reviewed.
Abstract: Attitudes about the use of deadly force have changed drastically since 1968, when the staff of the Kerner Commission, studying civil disorders, reported that many departments had never reduced firearms rules or policy to written form. The decision to use deadly force was often left to the discretion of officers as individuals. By the mid-1970's, despite intense rank-and-file resistance, most of the Nation's police departments had adopted written deadly force policies. However, deadly force has remained as a potentially explosive community issue. According to recent research, National Center for Health Statistics surveys of deaths resulting from police intervention have not produced accurate results. Instead of the average of 250 to 300 deaths per year over the last 15 years reported in the surveys, the actual figure is probably closer to 600 deaths a year. Bureaucratic sloppiness is blamed for the underreporting. Since State legislatures have often been unable to pass deadly force laws, many departments have acted on their own. Only eight States have adopted the American Law Institute's Model Penal Code which permits police use of deadly force only in defense of life or against suspected felons who may cause death or serious bodily injury if not apprehended immediately. In the remaining States, either the 'fleeing felon rule' or some slightly updated version of that rule is in effect. Justice Department efforts at encouraging the acceptance of written policies are reviewed, and sample cases are discussed. Photographs are included.
Index Term(s): Lawful use of force; On-duty offenses; Police attitudes; Police discretion; Police use of deadly force; Police weapons use
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