A proper use of force report protection against liability By Chuck Joyner, FBI

Guys this is an article we all should read and heed its advise when it come to reports and use of force. Also check the article by Kevin Maloney on Report Writing and the Boyd Cycle


Officers rarely have to use force when dealing with subjects. A 1996 Bureau of Justice Statistics’ pretest of its Police-Public Contact Survey indicated about one percent of the people who had contacts with police reported the officers used (or threatened) force beyond presence and verbal commands. However, officers recognize they are likely to use force a number of times during their careers. Once force is used, it is not uncommon for the officer to be scrutinized, criticized, and possibly sued. It has been estimated as many as one in every 60 officers in the U.S. is currently being sued for a use of force incident. Therefore, it is prudent to take necessary precautions after a use of force incident has occurred.

To successfully combat a use of force lawsuit, an officer must do two things. First, and most importantly, the officer needs to be right (i.e., reasonable) in the use of force. Second, the officer must carefully and clearly document why he/she was right and reasonable. Any inaccuracy or omission in the report will be used to attack the officer’s integrity and professionalism.

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