Rob Pincus

Understanding Force Options

Rob Pincus
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Duration:   3  mins

Our understanding of use of force options has changed over time. In the past, it was often expressed as the force continuum, which pictured force options as a linear progression starting from verbal force all the way up to lethal force.


It was often depicted as a ladder or a staircase to indicate the escalating use of force. The steps were:


Defensive concepts change and evolve with time, and we did away with the force continuum because it could convey the wrong message about the appropriateness of your use of force to defend yourself and others. For example, you are under no legal or moral obligation to give a verbal warning to a person who is charging you. It may be more appropriate to go directly to shoving the person away from you.


Rob draws a diagram in a wheel shape, with Force Options in the center and the various responses circling it. Each one of the responses can be further broken down as well. The wheel conveys the idea that you are in the middle, surrounded by choices. Whatever your particular circumstances are, there is an option that will work for your home and personal security, with no need for you to take extra or unneeded steps.

If you feel in fear for your life as someone is attacking you with a knife, you do not have to use a non-lethal tool such as a baton or pepper spray on them before you go to a firearm. The circumstances of your situation dictate your use of force, not a series of steps.

When it comes to force options, it’s not a staircase or a line or a ladder. It’s a circle of options and you have to pick the right ones for you based on what you perceive your need to be in a dynamic critical incident.

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