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Deadly Force in Law Enforcement

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 1982
23 pages
The justification for police use of deadly force is presented in historical, philosophical, and legal terms, with particular attention to current codes and recent court decisions that simultaneously justify and control police shootings.
Various issues of control are highlighted in discussions of the dilemma inherent in administrative regulation of shooting, given the complex decision process leading to a shooting incident. To illustrate the status of empirical knowledge regarding police shooting, the article analyzes the incident of fatalities among blacks. The analysis leads to the conclusion that the high mortality rate of blacks in police shootings seems to result primarily from community characteristics, such as the high general rate of violence in the inner cities, rather than from a tendency among police to treat blacks and whites differently solely because of race. However, overall, the data available for decisionmaking are slim, and the need for research is great. A total of 56 footnotes are included. (Author abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 1982