William Terrill's Response

Decent Essays
William Terrill’s seminal article, ‘Police use of force: a transactional approach’ provides a unique investigation into the widely researched subject of why and how officers use force. Where much of police literature including Terrill’s previous work has examined the issue from a broad, diversified perspective, in this instance, Terrill utilizes a focused approach by closely examining situations on a case by case basis to determine the various interplays that occur in police-suspect encounters and the relationship between use of force and suspect resistance.

While the practice of measuring and ranking police force in relation to suspect resistance is not new, prior research has largely ignored the critical series of events that leads up to the use of force. Terrill’s study examines the sequential process of each instance and measures multiple uses of both force and resistance in the same encounter. The basis of the idea is that situations undergo an escalation process whereby preceding actions dictate proceeding ones. Special attention is payed to incrementalism, or how officers move up the continuum of force. Through this transactional approach, Terrill’s claim is that the determination of how officers move up and down the continuum, and what
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Clear narrative accounts from observers provide detailed descriptions of altercations that give a step by step account of how a situation played out and what factors sparked the use of force. The force continuum’s worth as an analytical tool is also firmly established. Where, the continuum has generally been a mechanism to guide officer decision making, from the study it’s use as a means to assess force appropriateness becomes quite apparent. Terrill is able to uncover that officers actually perform quite well when dealing with resistant suspects but fail to show as much restraint when dealing with non-resistant
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