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Use of Force in Corrections -7Q

Updated on January 14, 2018
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Working as a boots-on-the-floor correctional officer has given the author hands-on experiences to share with others in this unique field.

Yes? or No?

Use of Force in the Jail Setting

We all know that jail is a dangerous environment; if you don’t know that then you've never been there and I HIGHLY suggest that you KEEP IT THAT WAY!

This is written for those who work in the corrections field, specifically those in county jails. for those of you who who do,you know that you will be faced with all kinds of situations, from the bizarre to the mundane. Each one of these moments will ask you to make decisions on a moment by moment basis.

These are split second decisions between life and death at times. How you act in these moments can have long lasting effects.

We all should admit to being excited at the notion of our first throw-down, or excited by the stories of macing or tazing someone,… but be advised,…. Use of force is NOT a competitive sport. The jail is not the ball field for measuring your personal worth,… the goal here, ALWAYS, is that we all go home. A shift with no harm, no reports and no blood is a great shift, and THAT should be our goal.

Remember that you have MANY tools at your disposal OTHER THAN FORCE to handle situations.

Now you could go over your facilty policy point by point until you fall asleep or go cross eyed,… I'm sure it’s all there if you wish to look it up and I suggest you do. Your facility policy is your best friend. You should read it, know it, and use it... however....

We can dumb it down to just 7 great little questions that will help you decide if use of force is justified.

7 questions......

When a situation arises that you think might require use of force you should ask yourself the following questions;

1) Is the inmate a threat/danger to me or another CO?

2) Is the inmate a threat/danger to themselves?

3) Is the inmate a threat/danger to other inmates?

4) Is the inmate a threat/danger to jail property?

5) Has the inmate failed to follow a lawful command of a jail officer?

6) Is there ANY OTHER WAY I can handle this situation WITHOUT force, to get a positive, safe result?

7) If I can’t say yes to questions 1-6, and I’m still angry enough and think that I need to use force in order to feel better about myself, because I’ve been embarrassed, outsmarted or otherwise personally wronged by the inmate,…. IS IT WORTH DISCIPLINARY ACTION, LOOSING MY JOB, OPENING MYSELF UP TO A PERSONAL LAWSUIT, AND POSSIBLE CRIMINAL CHARGES TO USE FORCE AT THIS MOMENT?


Now that you've read through these questions... picture in your mind any scenario you've been faced with lately and apply those questions to those events... how did you do?

"Ain't Nobody Got Time Fo Dat!"

Was the situation soo fluid and fast paced that you had no time but to react in order to stop harm?... good,… then you are most likely justified in your use of force, and your report will reflect that.

Can’t imagine having the time to ask yourself 7 questions before you deploy the mace, tazer or throw hands?...

well....... if you can drive a car in heavy traffic, on a 6 lane interstate, with the radio going, at 70 mph, keeping track of surroundings, road hazards, and the stopping distance of your own car and that of the 5 vehicles closest to you, quite possibly while applying make-up (to our male officers, it’s the 21st century, we don’t judge) all the while with your blue tooth in your ear,… you can multi-task.

Can’t make decisions on the fly?.... if you can play a virtual reality video game that requires multiple combinations of buttons and moves to navigate an ever changing digital environment that you’ve looked up cheat codes for and memorized the layout of for multiple imaginary levels,.. you can multi-task.

We All Go Home

in the end we have a shared goal... we all go home.

the best feeling in the world is walking in as a crew knowing that each one of your work family has your back all the way to the floor.

the better than best feeling in the world is walking out with that same crew at the end of the day, knowing that everyone made it. nobody was hurt, officers or inmates alike. we walk in together, we walk out together.

stay safe my friends.

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