Contextual Compliance Tool Kit
The word is spreading that the use of force continuum is dying a slow death. While the continuum model has served as a useful instructional tool for trainees over the years it has serious and even dangerous limitations as a tool for application in a field environment.
Police officers engaged in encounters with non-compliant offenders may feel that they are legally obligated to climb the use-of-force ladder and de-escalate to compliance, hesitating to take safer immediate assertive actions to end unlawful resistance. The stair- step dance of “he does that then I can do this” confuses practitioners, prosecutors, and juries. Fortunately the US Supreme Court has a refreshingly realistic standard of reasonableness which has yet to be fully grasped by policy makers of my generation still trembling from the Warren court years.
This article offers five principles of understanding encounters with non-compliant offenders under the doctrinal umbrella of offender-centered decision making. That is to say that the subject with whom a peace officer is in lawful contact is the primary decider of the tenor of the encounter.
In all cases where the officer is dealing with an encounter outside of a purely consensual one (in which the subject has the right to simply turn and walk away) the law explicitly demands that the subject comply with the officer.