Police practices have come under national scrutiny. What is excessive force by law enforcement agencies and what is not? While the nation is still coming to terms with the shooting by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, this is not an isolated problem. Phoenix and Arizona have faced their own questions about what amounts to excessive force during a mental health call and when ASU Assistant Professor Ersula Ore P.h.d. was videoed being slammed into a police car resulting from questioning about jaywalking.
Judging the use of force is a difficult undertaking, especially from the outside. It is important judgment to make sure there are not abuses in the process. Because of the power that police have, cases of alleged excessive force make the news. But rarely does the discussion involve what excessive force is legally, especially from the police’s standpoint.
Police manuals (also referred to as: directives, policies, orders, etc) can be considered an internal standards of care. Using them can help determine if police officers act in accordance with the law. See Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 448-51 (1966) (where the court expressly used and quoted police manuals to determine the standard practice for custodial interrogations at that time).
This blog post intends to examine what the guidelines are for Arizona law enforcement agencies use of force. Through examining the Arizona Revised Statutes and police department procedures and manuals for the three largest cities in Arizona (Phoenix, Mesa and Tucson), I hope to piece together a general standard for when police are allowed to use force.