Police Use

of Force

Safer communities through
sound policies


This policy is intended as a starting point for local governments and agencies preparing policies for dealing with use of force. This is a national-level policy and references holdings from federal case law but does not include applicable state or local requirements.

Download Policy: PDF | Word

Like all Lexipol policies, our Use of Force Policy is the product of careful consideration of laws, court decisions and policing best practices. It reflects our experience with thousands of agencies across the country, as well as input from a variety of perspectives—current and former public safety practitioners, legal experts, subject matter experts, trainers and instructors, and advocacy groups.

As you review the policy, please note:

  • Writing policy is both an art and a science, and if you’re new to reviewing policy, it can be easy to draw conclusions that are not in fact supported by the policy content. We encourage you to use the other sections on this site to inform your understanding of our Use of Force Policy, and to reach out if you have questions or desire clarification on any of our policy positions.
  • The provided policy is a national policy that does not reflect state laws and regulations governing police use of force. Agencies that subscribe to Lexipol’s state-specific policy solutions receive policies that incorporate all applicable state law.
  • The terms “should” and “shall” are sometimes a point of confusion in policy. Lexipol policy defines “should” as “Indicates a generally required or expected action, absent a rational basis for failing to conform.” “Shall” is defined as “Indicates a mandatory action.” Through our Daily Training Bulletins, which align with agency policy, Lexipol reinforces that “should” generally means required.
  • The Use of Force Policy is just one of 170+ law enforcement policies Lexipol provides. Our policies are written to work together as a system—we do not sell one-off policies. For example, other policies within the Lexipol system govern officer code of conduct and use of specific technologies such as body cameras and conducted energy devices (e.g., TASER®)—all of which have a connection to use of force.
  • If your local law enforcement agency subscribes to Lexipol, its Use of Force Policy may differ from the one provided here. This is because Lexipol encourages agencies that subscribe to our policies to review and customize their policies to address community and agency needs. Ultimately, agencies are responsible for their policy content.

For additional information on Lexipol’s policy positions related to police use of force, please visit the other pages on this site:

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