The Peace Officers’ Association of Georgia Foundation
Use of Force in Georgia
This paper is an attempt to define the problems associated with the use of force used by peace officers in Georgia. The result of the 2014 incidents in Ferguson, Missouri, has created a focus on the issues of race relations between the police and the public. Movements, such as a group calling itself Black Lives Matter, have sprung up over most of the United States with the purpose of keeping a spotlight on what is described as the excessive force use by police against minority groups, especially young, black males. Many law enforcement agencies in Georgia continue to have difficulty in recruiting, and retaining peace officers with the appropriate mind set and temperament for doing a difficult job. Random murders of peace officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge have a chilling effect on recruitment and retention.
A portion of this paper discusses the mind set of some peace officers who see themselves as “Warriors” and others who view their job as more aligned with the “Guardian.” Some general traits of both descriptions can be found in almost every law enforcement agency in Georgia, however, the emphasis of adherence to well written and well thought out policy guidelines can set the tone for officers making sound use of force decisions. Many law enforcement agencies have surplus military equipment that was decommissioned and made available by the United States government. Although some of that equipment has been returned because of issues with public perception, there has recently been some positive news coverage of the appropriate mission for such equipment, including the June 2016 rescue of many hostages in Orlando, Florida through the use of an armored vehicle. This paper focuses on the real issues regarding how law enforcement and other functions of the criminal justice system have to develop positive interactions with the entire community.