In the military and law enforcement there is a process called escalation of force that, when applied properly, helps the soldier or law enforcement person to use the minimal amount of physical force required to stop a threat. It helps ensure that a person causing a perceived threat isn’t killed if not necessary. Not only does this aid in the preservation of life, it also helps in terms of the legality of defending yourself or others. Imagine if someone across the street said they wanted to beat you up, would it make sense to draw your pistol and shoot them right away? Hopefully, you’re answer was somewhere along the lines of “absolutely not”. And you’d be right–if was just a rowdy kid thinking it was funny to try to scare people, no court in any land would consider there to be any justification whatsoever to shoot.
Let’s say the threat was even greater, maybe an argument at a sports bar that leads to some pushing and shoving and a physical altercation ensues trapping you at your booth. A group of drunk sports fans don’t need to be shot just because they’re Packers fans (sorry about the bad joke), but for obvious reasons you can’t just sit there and risk getting a beer bottle to the noggin. So you may have to get physical yourself–but again, keep that smoke wagon in its holster unless you feel like spending a few years in prison over bad call by the refs.
This is why we’re such advocates of learning hand-to-hand combat techniques and integrating it into a full spectrum defense lifestyle–not just some think about, but something to live by!
For those of you curious about what the levels actually are, check the list below.
The levels may vary a bit between organizations, but here’s a breakdown of the Levels of Force taken directly from the National Institute of Justice’s website (which you can get to here).
- Officer Presence — No force is used. Considered the best way to resolve a situation.
- The mere presence of a law enforcement officer works to deter crime or diffuse a situation.
- Officers’ attitudes are professional and nonthreatening.
- Verbalization — Force is not-physical.
- Officers issue calm, nonthreatening commands, such as “Let me see your identification and registration.”
- Officers may increase their volume and shorten commands in an attempt to gain compliance. Short commands might include “Stop,” or “Don’t move.”
- Empty-Hand Control — Officers use bodily force to gain control of a situation.
- Soft technique. Officers use grabs, holds and joint locks to restrain an individual.
- Hard technique. Officers use punches and kicks to restrain an individual.
- Less-Lethal Methods — Officers use less-lethal technologies to gain control of a situation.
(See Deciding When and How to Use Less-Lethal Devices. )
- Blunt impact. Officers may use a baton or projectile to immobilize a combative person.
- Chemical. Officers may use chemical sprays or projectiles embedded with chemicals to restrain an individual (e.g., pepper spray).
- Conducted Energy Devices (CEDs). Officers may use CEDs to immobilize an individual. CEDs discharge a high-voltage, low-amperage jolt of electricity at a distance.
- Lethal Force — Officers use lethal weapons to gain control of a situation. Should only be used if a suspect poses a serious threat to the officer or another individual.
- Officers use deadly weapons such as firearms to stop an individual’s actions.
Thanks for taking a few minutes to escalate your knowledge level. See you at the range!
Practice. Perfect. Protect.