Law enforcement expert: Use of force guidelines set by police departments

Freedom New Mexico

Each law enforcement department in the state has the discretion to
determine its own guidelines for when using a Taser is appropriate.

The New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy, along with most agencies
in the state, follows the Reactive Control Model as a guide for use of

Under the RCM, subjects are classified as either cooperative, non-cooperative, an unarmed assailant, or an armed assailant.

Brian Coss, a senior instructor at the New Mexico Law
Enforcement Academy, said Taser use is appropriate when dealing with a
non-cooperative subject.

However he said the guideline is situational and must be
evaluated based on the nature of the call — whether the subject
presents a threat to the officer or the general public and other

According to New Mexico statute, an officer is immune from civil
liability in an arrest connected to a family violence situation if the
officer has probable cause to believe abuse was committed.

However the issue of use of force and where a Taser may or may not be appropriate is not “black and white,” Coss said.

When reviewing use of force cases, the U.S. Supreme Court has
upheld totality of the circumstances must be weighed, and, “these cases
must be viewed without the benefit of hindsight,” based on the
knowledge the officer had at the time.

They also must be judged, “from a reasonable officer’s perspective at the scene” Coss said.

“(Use of force is) all grounded in the Constitution, case law and statutes,” Coss said.