When Force is Required

A comprehensive guide in the use of force for security executives and officers

Officers must feel that they can take control of a situation so that they can maintain that stable, predictable environment. They must manage human behavior using all the tools at their disposal. These include verbal, nonverbal and para-verbal communications. They use officer presence and proxemics to influence and move people.

If the laying on of hands or use of weapons is required, they do so in a professional manner without hesitation or prejudice. They think in terms of “safety first” and achieve that to the best of their abilities. They are always cognizant of the situation in its entirety.


De-escalation Best Practices

Calm, patient and understanding protection officers must rely on physical control. Those adept at communication have more tools with which to manage those who are aggressive or resistant; thus, they can usually calm people down before using force.

Should force be necessary, the initial use of calming techniques (outlined on page 32) will help justify the officer’s actions. Additionally, calming helps in the “debriefing” phase of an encounter, where the struggle is over and it is time to restore the detainee’s dignity.


Training: Mitigation and Prevention

Quality training delivered throughout an officer’s employment forms the cornerstone for violence management. An astute manager can build a use of force program on top of an anger management, stress management or customer service training program. This can be a training block that all employees receive rather than just security officers. In doing so, the foundations for effective interaction with others — the true end-game in security operations — are established.

If officers are better equipped to calm and defuse a situation, they will have more options for managing it. If they are subsequently armed they can approach an aggressive person or persons with more confidence and ultimately, more professionalism.

Use or misuse of force doesn’t just happen — it occurs because a variety of factors interact with one another. Management has a duty to engineer policies, procedures, deployment, training, etc., to ensure that force is used in an appropriate manner.

When protection officers avoid using force or employ it in a professional manner, their actions represent the culmination of management efforts combined with their own commitment to duty. Managers, officers, clients and others should not accept anything less.


Chris Hertig is is a Certified Protection Professional (CPP) and Certified Protection Officer Instructor (CPOI). He is an experienced instructor in both training and academic environments and is a master-level instructor in non-violent crisis intervention. He is a member of the ASIS International Council on Academic and Training Programs.

Charles Thibodeau, CPP,CPOI is a consultant, teacher and writer. He is co-author of the Use of Force chapter in The Professional Protection Officer: Practical Security Strategies and Emerging Trends; the text for the Certified Protection Officer (CPO) program administered by the International Foundation for Protection Officers (IFPO).