#8. Community Police Academy – Use of Force

For 12 weeks, Sherard Edington is taking part in the Community Police Academy offered by the Nashville Police Department. Through lectures and demonstrations, he is learning about the inner workings of law enforcement in Davidson County. These are his reports.

Dear Friends,

Use of Force was the topic for this week’s Community Police Academy. Instead of our normal meeting space at the Madison Precinct, we gathered at the Police Training Academy in north Nashville. The evening’s three presenters were all Academy instructors.

The presentation centered on the various levels of force that an officer can employ in given situations. These levels range from simply “being present” (cop with a badge) to the extreme of using deadly force. They repeatedly stressed that they would prefer to use as little force as possible.

There was a lengthy discussion of the Supreme Court case Graham v. Conner which ruled that “all force used by a police officer in the line of duty must be objectively reasonable.” Of course, “objectively reasonable” is open to interpretation. The challenge to an officer is how to apply that guidance in a fluid and potentially dangerous encounter. We spent the bulk of the evening exploring the meaning and application of this term.

The night wasn’t all desk work. For the final 30 minutes, we relocated to the gym where we all got the opportunity to fire a taser. Cool!


Selfie on the taser range.