While every use of force instance by Police has unique characteristics, the guidelines Police use to engage with force are generally clear.
Society tasks Police with controlling violent individuals and groups to protect public safety. Society does not ask police to determine motivations or conditions of a violent person before ensuring control of such persons' actions.
Some of the complaints about Police violence or targeting of specific groups appear to be based on the misconception that Police can or should diagnose a person before seeking to control his or her behavior. That idea is wrong.
A better way to reduce Police violence while preserving order in society is to encourage folks to study and understand the Use of Force rules of engagement Police use every day. With a more widespread understanding of when force is likely to be used, there may be less provocative behavior by some folks with a resulting lessening of violent confrontations.
Below is a generalized discussion of Use of Force rules as spelled out in wikipedia [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Use_of_force_continuum]
First, here is a categorization of the types of behavior Police may encounter:
In all use of force continuum models, the actions of the subject is classified in order for the officer to quickly determine what level of force is authorized and may be necessary to apprehend or compel compliance from the individual. Listed below are examples of how subjects are classified.
Passive compliant --- a person who recognizes the authority of the officers presence and follows the verbal commands of the officer.
Passive resistor --- a person who refuses to follow the verbal commands of the officer but does not resist attempts by officers to take positive physical control over them.
Active resistor --- a person who does not follow verbal commands, resist attempts by the officer to take positive physical control over them, and does not try to inflict harm on the officer.
Active aggressor --- a person who does not follow verbal commands, resists attempts by the officer to take positive physical control over them and attempts to cause harm to the officer or others.
Generally, the passive subjects and active resistors fall under levels 1-3 of the use of force continuum, while active aggressors fall under levels 4-6. The officers are trained to apply the proper measure of force within the continuum based on the actions and classification of the subject.
Then, Police choose which level of control to use when confronted with a situation.
While the specific progression of force varies considerably (especially the wide gap between empty hand control and deadly force) among different agencies and jurisdictions, one example of a general use of force continuum model cited in a U.S. government publications on use of force is shown below.
Officer presence --- the professionalism, uniform, and utility belt of the law enforcement officer and the marked vessel or vehicle the officer arrives in. The visual presence of authority is normally enough for a subject to comply with an officers lawful demands. Depending on the totality of the circumstances, a call/situation may require additional officers or on scene officers may request assistance in order to gain better control of the situation and ensure a more safe environment for all involved. It also will depend on the circumstances of the situation. For example, depending on how many people are at the scene with the officer, a larger presence may be required. However, if 10 officers arrive at a scene with only a single suspect, the public may perceive the situation as an excessive use of officer presence within the use of force continuum. In many models, the officer’s personal defense weapon or firearm unholstered and pointed at a subject falls under officer presence.
Verbal commands/cooperative controls --- clear and understandable verbal direction by an officer aimed at the subject. In some cases, it is necessary for the officer to include a consequence to the verbal direction so that the subject understands what will happen if the subject refuses to comply with the officer’s direction. The verbal command and the consequence must be legal and not considered excessive according to the continuum. For example, an officer could not order a disabled person in a wheel chair to stand up or be sprayed by Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) Pepper Spray.
Empty- hand submission techniques, PPCT - Pressure Point Control Tactics, Control Tactics, techniques --- a level of force that has a low probability of causing soft connective tissue damage or bone fractures. This would include joint manipulation techniques, applying pressure to pressure points and normal application of hand-cuffs.
Hard control Techniques/Aggressive response techniques --- the amount of force that has a probability of causing soft connective tissue damage or bone fractures or irritation of the skin, eyes, and mucus membranes. This would include kicks, punches, stuns and use of aerosol sprays such as oleoresin capsicum (OC) pepper spray. Some models split these techniques between empty hand, soft control and intermediate weapon techniques but only include 5 levels of the continuum.
Intermediate weapons --- an amount of force that would have a high probability of causing soft connective tissue damage or bone fractures. (e.g. expandable baton, baton, pepper spray, Taser, beanbag rounds, rubber fin stabilized ammunition, Mace (spray), police dogs, etc.) Intermediate weapon techniques are designed to impact muscles, arms and legs, and intentionally using an intermediate weapon on the head, neck, groin, knee caps, or spine would be classified as deadly or lethal force.
Lethal force/Deadly force --- a force with a high probability of causing death or serious bodily injury. Serious bodily injury includes unconsciousness, protracted or obvious physical disfigurement, or protracted loss of or impairment to the function of a bodily member, organ, or the mental faculty. A firearm is the most widely recognized lethal or deadly force weapon, however, an automobile or weapon of opportunity could also be defined as a deadly force utility.