Australian Institute of Criminology

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The Challenges of use of force in Policing

74 Leichhardt Street, Griffith ACT,
11:30 AM - 12:30 PM 04 July 2012

Professor Geoffrey P. Alpert

Presentation overview

Professor Geoffrey P. Alpert

Policing in the United States continues to face multiple challenges in routine and high-risk activities. Professor Alpert will be presenting findings from his research on the use of force, and specifically the use of Conducted Energy Weapons (Tasers), and pursuit driving. He will also provide an introduction to studies he is about to conduct on police officer routine and emergency driving.  His research findings have been used to influence changes in American policing in the areas of policies, training, supervision and accountability systems.  The discussion on use of force will focus on how to interpret the “objective reasonableness” standard that looks at facts and circumstances of the police-citizen encounter, including the severity of the offense, whether the suspect poses an immediate threat, and whether the suspect is actively resisting arrest or attempting to evade arrest. The analysis of the use of force must be viewed from the perspective of a reasonable officer, rather than 20/20 vision of hindsight allowing for split-second decisions that are often made in tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving circumstances. A discussion will also include the “frames’ of the event. His discussion on driving will center around decision making factors and pursuits, and the behavior of those who flee the police.  


Geoffrey Alpert is professor in the department of criminology and criminal justice at the University of South Carolina as well as a Visiting Professor at CEPS and Griffith University.  Dr. Alpert has been conducting research on high-risk police activities for more than 25 years, and has published results from his research in the academic and professional literature. He has been the principal investigator on major studies funded by the National Institute of Justice, including Police officer decision making, Use of Force and citizen resistance, Conducted Electronic Weapons, pursuit driving and police officer and supervisor performance measures.  He teaches at the FBI National Academy and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centre.