An Ideal Use of Force Model For Law Enforcement: An Assessment of the Austin Police Department




Delgado, Rolando A.

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Purpose: Generally speaking, a law enforcement agency's objective consists of protecting life and property, at the same time providing excellent public service to its community. Among other things, police administrators must provide its officers with the best use-of-force policies and practices to achieve an agency's objective. The first purpose is to establish a practical ideal type model to assess use-of-force policies and practices in law enforcement. Second, using a case study method, current use-of-force policies and practices at the Austin Police Department will be examined. Finally, the project will provide recommendations for improving use-of-force policies and practices at the Austin Police Department. A review of the literature identified three key elements of effective guidelines, extensive training in all force options, and a thorough review of use-of-force incidents. Methodology: The elements of effective use-of-force policies and practices identified in the literature are used to construct the conceptual framework. This framework is used to create a practical ideal type model assessment tool for use-of-force policies and practices. The assessment tool is used to evaluate the Austin Police Department's use-of-force policies and practices. A case study method comprising structured interviews, direct observation, and document analysis is used to carry out the assessment. Findings: Overall, the Austin Police Department's use-of-force policies and practices are consistent with the practical ideal type model developed through the literature, meeting best practices standards. Use-of-force policies and practices could be improved, however, by incorporating training practices to decrease officer and subject injuries, further research the use-of-force training model in place to evaluate its effectiveness, implement a system of use-of-force reporting that is more comprehensive, and strengthen its early warning system.


An Applied Research Project Submitted to the Department of Political Science, Texas State University-San Marcos, in Partial Fulfillment for the Requirements for the Degree of Masters of Public Administration, Spring 2011.


police use of force, law enforcement, excessive force, use of force, police best practices, Public Administration


Delgado, R. A. (2011). An ideal use of force model for law enforcement: An assessment of the Austin Police Department. Masters of Public Administration, Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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