An Evaluation Study of Three Illinois Police Departments Use of Force Training Programs

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Baldowsky, Jason
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Western Illinois University
"The purpose of this study was to evaluate the use of force training programs currently in use by three Illinois police departments. Harvard, Fox Lake, and Round Lake Beach were the municipal police department that participated in this survey in an effort to evaluate the quality of their use of force training programs. Manpower and budget constraints made training difficult and these departments were looking for a way to provide the most realistic, practical training under these constraints. To evaluate the use of force training programs this research first needed to discover what the dynamics of a use of force encounter were. The level of force used most often, the suspect resistance level encountered most often, and the conditions of a shoot/ no shoot encounter, were the focus in this section of the study. These findings were then compared to the training offered in an effort to evaluate how practical the training is. Most force used by the police officers in this study was relatively low, with contact control indicated as the level used most. The same was true of suspect resistance level, as verbal non-compliance was the most common level encountered. Shoot/ no shoot encounters were reported as mostly occurring at a close range with subjects often moving. When frequency distributions were examined the years of police experience more than any other variable, had the most impact on a use of force encounter. Officers with over five years of police experience used lower levels of force, encountered lower levels of suspect resistance, but were more likely to be involved in a shoot/ no shoot situation. The level of force where officers received most of their training was in the use of deadly force. Additionally, the majority of firearms training occurred at close range but with no movement by either the officers or targets. Because of the small number of respondents in this study (50), no significant relationships could be definitively proven regarding the use of force, and use of force training."