Explaining the rapid escalation of force

November 16, 2005

PrintCommentRegisterBookmarkRSSWhat's This

Gary T. Klugiewicz Klugie's Correctional Corner
with Gary T. Klugiewicz

Tip: Explaining the rapid escalation of force

Officers often find that it was much easier winning the actual "battle" on the street than winning the "war" in court. We need to remember that it is not enough to do the right thing. An officer has to be able to explain why his/her use of force was the right thing to do. To this we often have to "educate" the jury to the realities of the use of force. To do this, an officer needs to be able to "articulate", i.e. explain why their actions were "reasonable."

A great tool for this purpose is to understand what are referred to as "Special Circumstances" in an officer's Threat Assessment Opportunities. These refer to an open-ended list of reasons for what is often referred to as "skipping steps" or "rapid escalation" through an officer force options. In short, things are getting crazy and the normal step-by-step escalation of force isn't going to suffice. Officer Safety requires rapid escalation to top force options.

Here is a partial listing:

1. Your reasonable perception of threat.

Example: A subject is supposed to be armed, is acting suspiciously, has a bulge under his shirt at the waist, and refuses to keep his hands up over his head. It would be a good idea to quickly draw your weapon.

2. Sudden assault.

Example: A subject without warning throws a punch at your face. This is not the time for trying to talk him down. It is time to avoid the punch and to escalate quickly to appropriate empty hand technique, intermediate weapon, or beyond.

3. Your physical positioning.

Example: A subject is fighting with you on the top of a staircase. You need to end the fight now - any way you can before you end up getting thrown down the stairs.

4. Subject's ability to escalate force rapidly.

Example: You are dealing with a domestic disturbance in a home. The husband turns and starts towards his glass encased gun cabinet to get to a firearm. You need to stop him from getting to his guns.

5. Your special knowledge about the subject.

Example: You are dealing with a large, very strong, extremely violent subject who you know has a history of violent confrontations with the police. The subject is starting to lose it again. It is time to escalate quickly to control him before he can attack you.

6. Your injury or exhaustion.

Example: You have injured you knee and fallen to the ground during a physical confrontation with a subject. Instead of running away, the subject turns back towards you, and moves in for the kill. It's time to end the fight.

7. Other special circumstances.

Example: This isn't a complete list. It grows with time as officers experience other "Special Circumstances" that justify the rapid escalation of force.


About the author

Gary T. Klugiewicz is retired from the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department where he served three tours of duty "inside the walls" as a Correctional Officer, Deputy, Sergeant, and Captain. Gary has served as a Shift Supervisor, A CERT Team Commander, and a Special Management Team Security Supervisor for mentally ill inmates. Gary has developed defensive tactics training programs for Police, Corrections, Mental Health, and Tactical Teams. He is an instructor trainer for the State of Wisconsin’s correctional Principles of Subject Control (POSC®) Program, the ACMi® Correctional Emergency Response Team (CERT®) Program, the Active Countermeasures (Dynamic Entry Training) Program for SWAT Personnel, and the lead instructor for Verbal Judo's Tactical Communication for the Correctional Professional training program. Contact Gary Klugiewicz

PoliceOne Columnists:

PoliceOne's team of expert writers provides our readers with valuable insight from both on-the-job and classroom experience.

To submit articles or become a columnist click here and include your background/CV and a sample of your writing.

All Columnists

PoliceOne Newsletter

Subscribe Now

Today's Top Stories

Friday, January 30, 2015
All of Today's News

Discuss The News

PoliceOne News and Current Events Forum More Forums

Officer Down

All Officer Downs Submit an Officer Down

Featured Columnist

Mark Schraer
Moving Beyond Qualification
with Mark Schraer