The authority of the police to use force represents one of the most misunderstood powers granted to representatives of government. Police officers are authorized to use both psychological and physical force to apprehend criminals and solve crimes. This Article focuses on issues of physical force. After a brief introduction and a review of current legal issues in the use of force, the Article discusses "reasonableness" and the unrealistic expectation which is placed on police to understand, interpret, and follow vague "reasonableness" guidelines. Until the expectations and limitations on the use of force are clarified, in behavioral terms, police officers will be required to adhere to the vague standards of the "reasonable person."
Published in Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Volume 85, Issue 2, 1994, pages 481-501.
Alpert, G. and Smith, W. (1994). How Reasonable is the Reasonable Man?: Police and Excessive Force. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 85(2), 481-501.
Copyright © 1994 by Northwestern University, School of Law.