Force Police and Other Protectors Term Paper

  • Length: 13 pages
  • Sources: 8
  • Subject: Criminal Justice
  • Type: Term Paper
  • Paper: #69106210

Excerpt from Term Paper :

One of the authors in the review, in fact details a reporting system that effectively makes the use of force scene an investigated crime scene, where forensic and other evidence, physical and testimonial, is collected to develop a clear understanding of the events as they unfolded. (2005) Some would argue that this sort of method smacks of the police policing the police, and yet the OSCE Guidebook and many experts would argue that this sort of transparency is necessary for public trust and the insurance of reduced opportunity for corruption at every level. (2006) This emphasis on transparency is relatively new to policing, but in my opinion is demonstrative of positive social change and the eventual development of a much clearer sense on the part of the police, their governing agencies and the public of the nature and definitions of justifiable.

Suspect Coercion by Force or Threat of Force:

Klokar's article the Dirty Harry Problem demonstrates that police officers are frequently if not always placed in an impossible catch twenty two, where if they elicit results, say by seeking a coerced confession or using force when it is not defined as warranted, when they are "sure" of the individual's guilt such results might solve a problem, such as saving an innocent victim, (Klokar 1980, pp.34-36) but in my opinion they do not justify the violent coercion of a confession and are not "legal" or "moral" regardless of the end which is sought.

In an example, more closely associated with this idea and a real life situation, rather than the development of a scenario of fiction, is a European policy on forced DNA testing.

The most drastic solution is that of forced testing. In the law of England and Wales 62 a distinction is made between intimate and other body samples. A non-intimate sample can, under appropriate circumstances, be taken without consent. 63 an accused cannot be forced to donate an intimate body sample such as a sample of body fluid. 64 Under Part IV of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Bill, some DNA-yielding samples, including cheekscrapings, are to be reclassified as non-intimate. Until 1 September 1994, when the new law entered into force, it was not allowed in the Netherlands to obtain a sample by force. 65 Body samples for DNA testing could only be taken if the suspect agreed to it or, if requested so, in order to prove his/her innocence. 66 the new law legalizes both mandatory DNA testing and the taking of samples (by force if necessary) for DNA profiles. 67 This is similar to fingerprint evidence where both countries permit the use of force, if necessary. (Fennell, Harding, Jrg, & Swart, 1995, p. 275)

In this scenario, one can clearly see the development of the "Dirty Harry Problem" as the individual (suspect) can be forced to offer a cheek swab, through forced physical means to satisfy the need for such evidence, and confirm or deny his or her guilt. In other words an officer/detective/forensic examiner is placed in a position where he or she can be aided in solving a crime, (in this case it is likely a physical crime against another individual, such as battery, assault, rape, murder, or even an act of terrorism as these are the types of crime scenes that are most likely to elicit unknown DNA profiles) if he or she is able to forcefully elicit a DNA sample from the suspected perpetrator, even if that suspect is an innocent person. In some schools of ethics, this end justifies the means as solving the crime is paramount to maintaining the civil and personal rights of an individual suspect to protect his or her body from harm. This argument can be justified in that only limited harm can be done by forcing an individual to submit a DNA sample, through a cheek swab, the most fundamental of which are physical restraint, which could be seen as false imprisonment if the individual is deemed innocent or possibly minimal lacerations produced by forcing the suspect's mouth open to perform the swab. Though most, inclusing me would assume that is a suspect is innocent, and has little fear of DNA science falsely implicating them, which most people do in this day and age, there should be little or no resistance, unless the individual is not in a "normal" state of mind and therefore those who resist would be more likely to be guilty of something than not. In this scenario, good can be done, i.e. The solving of a violent crime, but there is no imminent harm from the suspect, in custody, i.e. his or her current physical state is not likely to be one that could harm anyone present and therefore by some standards this use of force is not justifiable. I argue that this is an assumption in error, as the use of force to eliciting this relatively minor personal injustice can be crucial to the solving of very serious crimes and this justifies the use of force to do it. This is regardless of arguments that hold a hard line about the use of force only being allowed in cases where direct protection from harm is evident, as the controlled environment offered the sample giver will likely protect him or her from any serious injury or harm as a result of the sample gathering.

The above use of force to collect evidence does not however compare to forced coercion, by means of violence or threat of violence, often labeled torture. There is an extreme contrary argument against forced coercion in nearly every document associated with law enforcement including but not limited to, (Carty 2006) (COECM 2002) (Winright 1996) (Klockars 1980) (Neyroud & Beckley 2001) (Fennell, Harding, Jrg, & Swart, 1995) (Kleinig 1996). According to the Recommendation Rec (2001)10 on the European Code of Police Ethics: "The police shall not inflict, instigate or tolerate any act of torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment under any circumstances. (COECM 2002 n.p.)

For the purposes of this Declaration, torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted by or at the instigation of a public official on a person for such a purpose as obtaining from him or a third person information or confession, punishing him for an act he has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating him or other persons. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to, lawful sanctions to the extent consistent with the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners....Torture constitutes an aggravated and deliberate form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. (Evans & Morgan, 1998, p. 77)

These circumstances include but are not limited to their most common scenarios, the infliction of psychological or bodily harm, or threat of bodily or psychological harm to the self or at a future time to another individual, to elicit information and/or confessions from detained individuals. Though many people in the modern world, would like to think that torture is not a problem, in the developed nations, any longer recent public outcry regarding the Abu Ghraib, where Marines knowingly inflicted and then recorded through photography incidents of torture on Iraqi prisoners, as well as U.S. CIA and other scandals, and the ongoing concerns about international detainment of war criminals and their alleged and real torture and treatment, should make the individual in denial grossly aware that such incidents are still occurring. Most importantly that torture incidents are not simply occurring in nations, or being conducted by nations where these tactics have always been tolerated, but in some of the core nations that have pledged repeatedly to eradicate them. (Evans & Morgan, 1998)


To demonstrate the principles of the most convincing justifications for the use of force by police officers, this work has demonstrated the difficulty of the question, proposed several conflicts, and resulted in a document that reiterates certain principles while denying others. The use of force, is most justifiable in a clear situation of direct threat of harm to the police, and/or an innocent. The use of force is justifiable to gain evidence, only in the case where doing so will not elicit extreme harm or potential harm upon the individual. The use of force is not however permissible if there is no imminent harm, as perceived by the officer or if such force is extreme in nature, such as in the case of torture, in the apprehension, interrogation or detention of suspects or criminals.

The use of defensive force, even…

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