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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 99039 Find in a Library
Title: Social Contract and the Police Use of Deadly Force (From Moral Issues in Police Work, P 237-249, 1985, Fredrick A Elliston and Michael Feldberg, eds. -- See NCJ-99027)
Author(s): J H Reiman
Date Published: 1985
Page Count: 13
Sponsoring Agency: Rowman and Allanheld Publishers
Totowa, NJ 07512
Sale Source: Rowman and Allanheld Publishers
Division of Littlefield, Adams and Co
81 Adams Drive
Totowa, NJ 07512
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Under the social contract developed by classical theoreticians, the defense of life is the only morally acceptable standard for the police use of deadly force.
Abstract: In the social contract envisioned by such philosophers as John Locke and Thomas Hobbes, citizens relinquish their freedom to use force as they see fit and entrust a public agency to use force in the name of society for the protection of society and its individual members. Since the social contract emphasizes the use of force as a protective measure, it is not proper for the police to take a life except to preserve a life, either an officer's or a citizen's. States misuse their mandate of social control when they permit police to shoot at fleeing felons even if they are unarmed and pose no immediate threat to citizens in the vicinity. Those most likely to be shot by the police -- the poor, blacks, hispanics, and other minorities -- are already victimized by the social and economic hardships and discrimination imposed on them. Any standard that permits the police use of deadly force except to save a life under immediate threat increases the risks and inequities for those already suffering injustices. Because they are not full beneficiaries of the social contract, the oppressed should be treated with special care by those public agencies assigned to protect citizens. Eleven notes are listed.
Index Term(s): Lawful use of force; Police policies and procedures; Police use of deadly force; Social organization
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