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Use of force investigations: policies, legal issues & officer trauma.

Deadly Force and Police Involved Shootings

Practitioners will share their experiences and provide participants with strategies for dealing with each of these key areas. The psychological well being of law enforcement officers who have been involved in line of duty shootings will be explored in terms of maintaining them as productive and healthy members of their agency. Liability issues surrounding the use of force, specifically deadly force, will be discussed. Proper containment of the shooting scene and dealing with the press will provide the critical link between liability issues and a successful investigation.

This course deals in depth with four critical aspects of police-involved shootings:


  1. The law enforcement officer & trauma issues

  2. Use-of-force policies and guidelines

  3. Individual & departmental liability & training issues

  4. Media relations

Learn about our officer-involved shooting training course.


A use-of-force continuum will be presented and overviewed in depth. This continuum will provide a frame of reference for determining the appropriateness of the levels of force used during an incident.


The continuum also assists the investigators during court testimony in presenting a logical evaluation of the sequence of events and the appropriateness of the shooter’s actions.


Participants are encouraged to bring with them actual case histories from their own jurisdiction for evaluation and discussion.


Participants will leave with specific information and issues to be addressed in their agency’s policy.



When the participant completes this course, s/he will be able to:


  • Discuss the needs for departmental policies related to the various aspects of the use of deadly physical force & translate those needs into effective training.

  • Describe the wide variety of behaviors & needs exhibited by officers involved in shootings.

  • Explain the use of force continuum & its application to the investigation & court testimony.

  • List the initial steps & follow-up actions that should be taken by the department in more effectively dealing with the officer's family.

  • Describe the theories & statutes under which police officers, police departments & employing jurisdictions can be held liable.

  • Explain the differences between civil investigation & criminal investigations.

  • Discuss, in detail, techniques of controlling the scene & effectively dealing with the press.


This course will enable police administrators to design and articulate department policy in anticipation of officer-involved shootings. Investigative unit commanders and supervisors will gain strategies in terms of dealing with officer trauma and initial scene response. Investigative personnel will be able to prepare a game plan that will assist not only in a thorough investigation, but also in protecting the officer and the department from civil liability where appropriate.


Ideally each participating agency should send a team of personnel representing the areas of internal affairs, investigations, chief administrator's office, and civil litigation office to ensure that a comprehensive departmental response is developed.


  • Registration & orientation

  • Course overview & needs assessment

  • Investigation into police-involved shootings

  • Investigation into police-involved shootings & other uses of deadly force

  • Post shooting trauma issues:

    • The officer involved

    • Other officers involved

    • The officer’s family

    • The officer’s department


  • Post shooting trauma issues (continued):

    • An examination of potential departmental responses & policy issues

  • Non-shooting incidents – critical incident stress issues

  • Legal issues instruction – use of force & use of deadly force

  • Criminal liability

  • Civil liability

  • Use of force training presentation:

  • The Reactive Control Model©

  • Developing policies & procedures for your agency

  • Review of specific policies

  • Practical exercises

  • Course review, wrap-up & award of certificates

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