refers to the subject having the means to carry out his or her intent to cause death or great bodily harm.
An officer must determine whether the subject has the necessary means to cause death or great bodily harm
to the officer or others. A weapon is not required; a subject must only have the apparent ability to carry out
his or her intention. If the subject seems physically able to cause death or great bodily harm, then he has the
ability. For example, a 6'4", 250-lb. muscular man threatening to do bodily harm to an officer does not
necessarily need a weapon. By virtue of his size and physical condition, he has the apparent ability.
means the subject is capable of acting on a plan to cause death or great bodily harm to the
officer or others. The subject's weapon often determines opportunity. For example, a suspect armed with a
knife may not be an immediate threat to an officer standing far away. However, the same person standing
closer or carrying a firearm certainly has the opportunity to carry out his intent to cause death or great
is a reasonably perceived, imminent threat to an officer or another person based on the subject's
actions, behaviors, words, or other indicators. It is a perception derived from the totality of
If ability, opportunity, and
intent are present and the officer cannot control the threat using lesser means,
then deadly force is justified.
Totality of circumstances
is a term the court uses to refer to all facts and
circumstances known to the officer at the time, or reasonably perceived by the officer
as the basis for, a use of force decision.
Some situational factors may include the following:
severity of the crime
โข subject is an immediate threat
โข subject's mental or psychiatric history, if known to the officer
โข subject's violent history, if known to the officer
โข subject's combative skills
โข subject's access to weapons
โข innocent bystanders who could be harmed
โข number of subjects versus number of officers
โข duration of confrontation
โข subject's size, age, weight, and physical condition
โข officer's size, age, weight, physical condition, and defensive tactics expertise
โข environmental factors, such as physical terrain, weather conditions, etc.
The Force Guidelines recognizes that officers
make use of force decisions based on the
totality of circumstances at the time of the
Officers need to clearly articulate the specific basis for their decisions regarding
the use of force.
Officers should remember that whatever is written on a use of force incident report will
seen by not only supervisors but also by a prosecutor, defense attorney, judge, and
potentially many others.
measure of anxiety caused by an appraisal of a stimulus that leads to an extreme state
is the officer's elevated mind-body state that occurs in the
presence of a perceived challenge or threat.
also become verbally and physically threatening, indicating they may resist by
A subject postures when
an officer gives him a command. The subject expands his chest and begins to speak
loudly, shouting, "You're not taking me!" He strikes his chest with his open hands while stepping back and
forth, side to side as he yells the same words over and over.
Psychological Changes Under Stress
limbic system, sympathetic nervous system, parasympathetic nervous system
the parts of the brain that are especially focused on emotion and motivation) that
provides a survival response to the central nervous system.
The central nervous system is
composed of the
sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system.
The sympathetic nervous system
the part of the autonomic nervous system that is concerned especially with preparing the body to react to
situations of stress or emergency. This system activates what is often called the fight or flight response.
parasympathetic nervous system,
sometimes called the rest and digest system, is the part of the autonomic
nervous system that is concerned with controlling the body during normal, routine situations.
When experiencing extreme anxiety, you may experience physical changes within your body. One or more of
the following symptoms of survival stress may occur:
Increase in heart rate and respiration.
โข Auditory Distortion:
โข Visual Distortion:
โข Loss of bladder and bowel control.
โข Increased Reaction Time:
โข Motor Performance Changes:
โข Perceptual Time Distortion:
โข Perceptual Space Distortion:
Blood flows into the larger muscle groups providing oxygen to power flight and aid
Blood flow is restricted from the extremities and skin. The body pulls the blood away
from the arms and legs into the torso. This keeps the blood near vital organs in case of emergency and
also protects the arms and legs (our weapons) from losing blood in case of injury.
Due to physiological changes in the eye, vision may become distorted. Officers may
as see darkness around the edges of their vision (tunnel vision). Officers may also lose the ability to see
close objects with detail (farsightedness).
Fine motor skills
refer to the muscle control required to make small, precise movements, such as unlocking
handcuffs with a key.
Gross motor skills
movements of the large or major muscles of the body, which are used in tasks such as running,
punching, or kicking.
Complex motor skills
combine fine and gross motor skills using hand and eye coordination timed to a single event, such
as driving a vehicle
are mental shortcuts that allow people to solve problems and make judgments
quickly and efficiently.
Cursing is emotional speech that may
demonstrate that an officer is in a
state of high arousal during or immediately following a critical incident.
officers who are in a state of
high arousal later regret or do not recall the things they have said during this period of anxiousness. which reflects a series of statements brought on by a euphoric feeling of accomplishment the officer experiences after prevailing in the critical incident.
The Threat Awareness Spectrum
is a color-coded illustration of how survival stress may affect an officer's reaction to a perceived challenge or threat. The desired state of awareness and readiness of an officer while on routine duty is Condition Yellow.