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Rodney King

The 1991 beating of California motorist Rodney King will have an impact on law enforcement for years to come. The videotape of the beating, broadcast nationwide, resulted in public outrage over police brutality. The City of Los Angeles appointed a special commission to investigate whether brutality was widespread within the police department. Police departments across the country likewise reviewed their own policies on excessive force. Despite these efforts, citizen complaints about police brutality have increased since the Rodney King beating.

Police are allowed to use force during the course of their daily activities. Force can be used to make arrests, maintain order, or keep the peace. The important thing is that the police officer is able to gain control of the situation. How the officer gains control is left up to his or her judgment: "In other words, an officer most often attempts to take control of a confrontation by defining the situation" (Alpert and Dunham, 1997, p. 222). The officer has a range of force options from which to choose. Sometimes the mere presence of the police officer is enough control. At other times, verbal commands are needed. The compliance hold (physical force) is the next stage of control, followed by the use of non-lethal weapons such as the baton or chemical spray. The last resort is the use of deadly force. Guidelines define when deadly force should be used: "The use of such force is prescribed by state and federal statutes and basically requires that deadly force be used only in self-defense or in the defense of another" (Hess and Wrobleski, 1997, p. 139). The use of deadly force is the hardest decision that a police officer makes.

Thus a police officer who seriously injures or even kills a suspect is justified under certain conditions. The officer must be able to show that the use of deadly force was reasonable. Officers are not required to endanger their own lives if they ...

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Rodney King. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 01:06, March 26, 2019, from