Dr Richard Hough, University West Florida, has published a powerful analysis of the moral and ethical implications of the use of force by the police and other agencies. In light of recent events, particularly with respect of the Black Lives Matters protests, in contains some fascinating insight into establishing consent and moral authority for the most serious actions police officers often have to undertake.

One section of the summary standards out:

Police legitimacy is established by law but relies on the confidence and support of the community. When the community sees a commitment to procedural and social justice by their police, it is a signal to have confidence in the overall operations of the agency.

Dr Richard Hough, University West Florida


Police agencies in the United States have in modern times put themselves forward as being service-first organizations. The community-oriented policing (COP) paradigm begun in the 1980s represented a shift in approach as the field of law enforcement transitioned from the professionalism era. Evidence-based and intelligence-led policing tout data-driven decision-making on deployment of resources, and Goldstein’s problem-oriented policing (POP) provides the conceptual frame to use the data to identify problem or crime causation.

A reality of any former or current model of policing is the occasional need to use force to control or restrain people. Couched in expansive defensive tactics curricula and use of force graphic continua, are force responses including deadly force that are triggered by factors including an officer’s fear for his or her life or the lives of others.

Does the use of deadly force generally rise to the level of systemic or “administrative evil” as contemplated by Adams and Balfour- possibly unintended but evil, nonetheless? African Americans are killed by police out of proportion to their presence in the U.S. population. This article uses the construct of administrative evil to analyze available data on the current trend of killings and contemplate the role of society in masking these outcomes.

The full paper can be read at Researchgate