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An examination of Florida policies on force continuums

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Purpose ‐ This paper aims to examine Florida law enforcement agency policies to determine whether they contain language from the International Associations of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Model Policy on use of force. Consistency of policy content is instructive. Design/methodology/approach ‐ Data for this study include written policies of Florida law enforcement agencies (n=160) which were collected through e-mail requests to all agencies in the state (n=323). Content analysis was used to analyze the policies. Findings ‐ Findings suggest that 74 percent of all agencies include language that refers to a use of force continuum, including 90 percent of sheriffs' offices and 70 percent of police departments. Research limitations/implications ‐ The research suggests that the majority of agencies continue to include a use of force continuum. Only Florida agencies were surveyed, and the response rate was 50 percent. Practical implications ‐ The research suggests that a majority of agencies adhere to the principle that clear use of force policies can reduce liability concerns, and shows that written policies can be effective training tools. Social implications ‐ Use of force remains the chief public concern in law enforcement's discretionary actions. Therefore, agencies must address use of force issues comprehensively. Originality/value ‐ There is no research that examines the content of current use of force policies. This paper adds to the literature on force policy and examines such policies in the nation's fourth largest state. The paper suggests areas for future research and offers a normative model of a force policy.
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Keywords: Force continuums; Law enforcement; Law enforcement policies; Policing; United States of America; Use of force

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 02 March 2012

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