Require Use of Force Continuum graphics


Officers shall use only that amount of force that reasonably appears necessary given the facts and circumstances perceived by the officer at the time of the event to accomplish a legitimate law enforcement purpose.

The "reasonableness" of force will be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene at the time of the incident. Any evaluation of reasonableness must allow for the fact that officers are often forced to make split-second decisions about the amount of force that reasonably appears necessary in a particular situation, with limited information and in circumstances that are tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving.

Given that no policy can realistically predict every possible situation an officer might encounter, officers are entrusted to use well-reasoned discretion in determining the appropriate use of force in each incident.

It is also recognized that circumstances may arise in which officers reasonably believe that it would be impractical or ineffective to use any of the tools, weapons or methods provided by the Department. Officers may find it more effective or reasonable to improvise their response to rapidly unfolding conditions that they are confronting. In such circumstances, the use of any improvised device or method must nonetheless be reasonable and utilized only to the degree that reasonably appears necessary to accomplish a legitimate law enforcement purpose.

While the ultimate objective of every law enforcement encounter is to avoid or minimize injury, nothing in this policy requires an officer to retreat or be exposed to possible physical injury before applying reasonable force.


(a) Only lawful and reasonable force to a person shall be used. Members shall use a reasonable amount of force when force is necessary to accomplish an arrest, overcome perceived resistance to arrest, defend themselves or others from harm, or control a situation.

(b) When the use of force is necessary, the degree of force used should be in direct relationship to the amount of resistance used by the person, or the imminent threat the person poses to officers, staff, or other citizens.

(c) The use of force will be reasonable in light of the subject’s level of resistance as perceived by the officer. This force may be in the form of:

  1. Presence

  2. Verbal advice, persuasion, or commands

  3. Physical touching or guidance (escorting)

  4. Soft, Empty-hand Techniques
    (a) Counter-joint techniques/holds
    (b) Hair holds/take-downs
    (c) Pressure point
    (d) Pain compliance

  5. Hard, Empty-hand Techniques
    (a) Active counter-measures
    (b) Kicks
    (c) Strikes
    (d) Stuns
    (e) Conducted Electrical Weapon non-probe drive stun

  6. Intermediate Force
    (a) Impact weapons
    (b) Oleoresin Capsicum spray
    (c) Conducted Electrical Weapon probe deployment

  7. Deadly Force

Renton Police Department Comments

The use of force by law enforcement is a complex subject. It is very difficult to broadly categorize the options available to our officers. We choose to use the term “spectrum of force” rather than “continuum”. This is because the use of force is not linear. It is not reasonable for an officer to always start at the lowest end of the force options and progress to the higher force option, or vice versa. If an officer arrives at a call in which an intermediate-force tool is the best option to prevent someone from being injured, using lower levels of force and then ”working up” a continuum to intermediate force only heightens the danger to the victim. In addition, the same technique or tool can be considered different levels of force depending on the area of the body to which the force is applied. Our officers are trained to use the level of force that is reasonable and necessary to control a person when non-force options are inappropriate or ineffective.

Eight Can't Wait

Data proves that together these eight policies can decrease police violence by 72%

Ban Chokeholds and Strangleholds

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Require de-escalation graphic

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Require warning before shooting graphic

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Exhaust all alternatives before shooting

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Duty to intervene graphic

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Ban shooting at moving vehicles graphic

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Use of force continuum graphic

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Require comprehensive reporting

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