What Would You Do? Reasonable Force

Discussion 1: What Would You Do? Reasonable Force

To be in a situation where extreme force may be necessary is a singular experience, one in which an immediate decision must be made based on sometimes limited information and an instinctual response to danger. Predicting how one may truly respond is nearly impossible, despite training and even assumptions about one’s thoughts and beliefs.

Nevertheless, one exercise that may illuminate the perception of law enforcement actions is to examine them from different perspectives, and to be given the chance to see how your own actions may be perceived. In this Discussion and the next, you gauge your possible reaction to a scenario and then share varying perspectives with your colleagues.

To prepare:

Read the scenario below, and then post your response. In this Discussion, you will not be able to see the first posts of your colleagues until after you post your first response.

Reasonable Force Scenario

Early in the afternoon, a patrol officer notices two men, between 17–20 years of age, walking in the middle of the street. The street has no other traffic and is in a residential part of the city. The officer pulls alongside the two and orders them to use the sidewalk rather than walking in the street. A brief argument ensues, during which verbal insults are exchanged. Infuriated by the officer’s response and his use of authority, one of the boys reaches through the car window and grabs the officer’s shirt with one hand while trying to hit him with the other. During the exchange, the officer fears that the boy is trying to reach into the patrol car to take his gun. The officer reaches for his gun.

Witnessing the exchange frightens the other boy, who quickly runs from the area.

Post a response to the following:

  • Describe the action(s) you would take in the circumstances described.
  • Explain your rationale for the action(s) you took.