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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 76517 Find in a Library
Title: Use of Force in Dealing With Juveniles - Guidelines
Journal: Criminal Law Bulletin  Volume:17  Issue:2  Dated:(March - April 1981)  Pages:124-146
Author(s): F J Vandall
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 23
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: A review of the law concerning police use of force in dealing with juveniles is presented, as are guidelines, policy-oriented alternatives, and problems regarding use of force. Emphasis is on developing a clear department policy and training officers in use-of-force decisions.
Abstract: Discretion is one of the most important aspects of a patrol officer's work and grows out of several realities of our legal system, including the fact that statutes are often ambiguous, were never meant to be enforced, or are obsolete. Police officers may exercise discretion in order to accomplish a social good or because more serious crimes demand their time. In any case, few police training materials cover discretion, particularly in regard to use of force with juveniles. The model guideline presented identifies various courses of action available to an officer handling a juvenile or group of juveniles. Listed in order of increasing infringement on the juvenile's freedom, they are (1) making the presence of the police known, (2) maintaining a constant surveillance, (3) questioning the juvenile, (4) counseling, (5) issuing a warning, (6) issuing an order to 'move on,' and (7) making a physical arrest. The judgment of police in choosing from among these alternatives should be influenced by several factors -- the seriousness of the offense, the character and attitude of the child, and public safety. Other contributing factors are the attitude of the parents and their ability to control the child, the child's previous record, the extent of the child's involvement in the misbehavior, the child's age and mental state, the neighborhood's crime rate, and the ability of the court to provide the child with specific help. A common police-juvenile conflict situation, a gathering of juveniles in the street, is used to apply the model, and questions deriving from the guidelines are listed to aid the officer's decision: What is the nature of the act regarding noise, offensive behavior, and unlawful activity? Where is the gathering located, and is it blocking traffic, affecting large numbers of people, or in a place known for unlawful activity? Is the gathering taking part in speech-making or demonstration activities that might be protected by constitutional provisions? In selecting an alternative form of action, the policy should be to use the minimal force necessary. Use of deadly force should be reserved for protecting oneself or others from death or great bodily harm. The article contains 76 footnotes.
Index Term(s): Juvenile procedures training; Lawful use of force; Police discretion; Police juvenile relations; Police policies and procedures; Police use of deadly force; Police weapons use; Standards
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