Community-oriented policing services (COPS) using appropriate performance measurements have enhanced problem-solving strategies. Police management becomes flexible, allowing quick organization and responding appropriately to each emerging crime pattern instead of the traditional routine approach. Besides, measurement brings in a skillful perspective that makes police apply the best intervention toolkit in tackling each task. When a situation renders existing strategy irrelevant or insufficient, it is easy to invent new approaches. Over the past few decades, there have been instances of police officers using Tasers and handcuffs against children to disable them in situations where they were fighting or behaving uncontrollably. Some of the cases received public recognition, which spawned discussions about the use of weapons against children. Hence, there should be limits to police weapon utilization against a child, and guidelines for working with children should be included in the police code of conduct.
Police Weapon Utilization
One of the controversial aspects of law enforcement officers’ conduct has been the usage of excessive force, especially weapons. Traditionally, a police officer is equipped with a firearm, pepper spray, Taser, and handcuffs for intense force utilization (Stroshine & Brandl, 2020). Due to the difference in weight and natural strength between a trained officer and a child, the use of weapons labeled as ones for intense utilization of force, such measures are viewed as excessive and violent (Millar et al., 2021). In addition, there are no laws and regulations that would prohibit the use of police violence against children.
On the contrary, there are cases where children conduct a crime. The Juvenile Act defines a juvenile offender as an individual aged 16 and below (Feld, 2019). Previously, the issues of child offenders were treated within the purview of the societal systems in different states. In this context, juvenile offenders were considered social deviants who could be brought back ‘inline’ by stringent social mores. Crimes such as mobbing, armed robberies, and burgling are not very common among children, but preventing them may require intense use of force. Hence, those cases should be the only exception and excuse for using weapons against children.
Often, an officer may use weapons such as Tasers or handcuffs to prevent a child from self-harm. In this case, the use of force can be used only after the negotiation phase. Using violence against children is disturbing for adults and harms children’s mental health. Children who experience both the crime event and the use of police force against them are likely to develop long-lasting trauma (Hickman et al., 2021). In addition, this shapes a lifelong negative attitude to law enforcement officers, resulting in problematic or anti-social behavior in the future. Therefore, the use of weapons against children should be regulated and limited.
In conclusion, there are many negative aspects of using violence against children, and organizations such as the United Nations make the protection of children from violence their priority. In the case of police using weapons against children, there is an evident lack of regulations. Considering the long-lasting consequences on children, this aspect of the police code of conduct should be changed. Therefore, using weapons against children should be limited to the exception of extreme necessity, such as preventing self-harm or stopping a crime where juvenile perpetrators are armed. In other cases, the utilization of weapons should be prohibited, and officers should be trained to communicate with children in extreme situations.
Hickman, M. J., Strote, J. N., Scales, R. M., Parkin, W. S., & Collins, P. A. (2021). Police use of force and injury: Multilevel predictors of physical harm to subjects and officers. Police Quarterly, 24(3), 267-297.
Millar, A., Saxton, M., Øverlien, C., & Elliffe, R. (2021). Police Officers Do Not Need More Training; But Different Training. Policing Domestic Violence and Abuse Involving Children: A Rapid Review. Journal of Family Violence, 1-18.
Stroshine, M. S., & Brandl, S. G. (2020). The use, effectiveness, and hazards associated with police use of force: The unique case of weaponless physical force. Police Practice and Research, 21(6), 591-608.