Police officers are certainly not prohibited from using force. They sometimes need to do so in order to apprehend a suspect or to keep the public safe. This could include minor physical force, such as restraining someone, or it could even include the use of a firearm or another such implement.
However, there are many situations in which the police are accused of brutality or using excessive force. They are not allowed to take the level of force beyond what is reasonable for the situation.
For instance, if someone pushes a police officer, that officer may be able to grab them, handcuff them and restrain them, as the push could be a form of assault. But it would likely be excessive force if the officer simply drew their gun and fired it because they would have escalated the level of violence far beyond what was necessary.
How does their personal life play a role?
When looking into why police officers use excessive force, one thing that experts have noted is that the odds go up if that officer is experiencing certain personal problems.
For instance, maybe the officer is under a lot of stress because they’re living paycheck to paycheck and they’re not sure how to make ends meet. Or maybe they’re stressed out about relationship problems at home because their spouse has filed for a divorce. These outside stressors can mean that the officer is more on edge and more likely to escalate the level of force, rather than remaining calm and trying to de-escalate the situation. However, that does not make their actions excusable.
Have you been victimized by police brutality? If so, it’s crucial that you understand all of the legal steps you can take: