6.19 Use of Force

The Chancellor shall implement guidelines that are adopted by the Governing Board for Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) Public Safety Officers on the use of force in the performance of their duties.


MCCCD Public Safety Officers will use only the force necessary to accomplish lawful objectives while protecting the lives of the Officer and others. The Control Options Response Chart serves as a guide for the escalation and de-escalation of force. Violation of this policy may result in sanctions as prescribed by MCCCD policy. Additionally, violation of Arizona state law may result in criminal and/or civil penalties in a court of law.

Since use of force decisions are made under exceedingly varied scenarios and often on a split-second basis, all Officers must be provided with the necessary knowledge and training upon which to make such decisions. Officers must also attain and maintain proficiency with firearms, impact weapons, oleoresin capsicum sprays or approved chemical agents, tasers, less-lethal weapons, handcuffs, and other equipment that may be used in the line-of-duty.

A written report will be submitted whenever an Officer discharges a firearm, intentionally or accidentally, for other than training or sporting purposes. An Officer must also submit a written report if he or she applies physical force through the use of any lethal or less-lethal weapon, and/or takes an action that results in or is alleged to have resulted in injury or death of another person.

The District Director of Public Safety will ensure that both criminal and administrative investigations into all incidents involving the use of lethal force are conducted promptly and accordance with the prescribed policy. Incidents involving complaints about other uses of force, e.g., voice commands, pain compliance, etc., will be handled according to MCCCD procedures.

The affected college will temporarily remove from a line-duty assignment, pending administrative review, any Officer whose actions or use of force results in a death or serious physical injury. During this period, provisions for post-incident debriefing and psychological counseling for the involved Officer will be made available.


  1. Reasonable Belief: An Officer's belief or action is reasonable if the facts or circumstances the Officer knows, or should know, are such as to cause an ordinary and prudent person to act or think in a similar way under similar circumstances. The reasonableness of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable Officer on the scene, in light of the facts and circumstances confronting him or her, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight. Allowances must be made for the fact that Officers often must make split-second judgments in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving.
  2. Serious Physical Injury: Serious physical injury includes physical injury which creates a reasonable risk of death, or which causes serious and permanent disfigurement, serious impairment of health or loss or protracted impairment of the function of any bodily organ or limb.
  3. Less-Lethal Force: Less-lethal force is defined as the use of a technique, weapon, or equipment to stun, temporarily incapacitate, or cause temporary discomfort to a person’s body. Less-lethal force is any use of force other than that which is considered lethal force.
  4. Subject’s Actions
    1. Passive Resistance Physical actions that do not prevent an Officer’s attempt at control but may include verbal responses.
    2. Psychological Intimidation
      1. A combination of physical signs on the part of the subject who is ignoring verbal commands that indicate the subject is making mental/physical preparations before a fight begins.
      2. A combination of physical signs which may include, but are not limited to: clenching/unclenching of fists, setting of the jaw, accelerated breathing, verbal statements, and/or aggressive facial expressions.
    3. Defensive Resistance
      1. Physical actions on the part of a subject, who is ignoring verbal commands, which attempt to prevent the Officer’s control, but do not constitute an assault.
      2. Examples include ignoring the Officer’s verbal commands and pulling away, hiding behind/under objects, pinning arms under the body, thrashing around, body going rigid, assuming a fighting stance.
    4. Danger to Self Physical actions on the part of the subject resulting in self-inflicted injuries or that indicate intent to harm one or commit suicide.
    5. Active Aggression

      ​Assault with non-deadly physical force.
    6. Aggravated Active Aggression

      ​Assault with force which is capable of creating a substantial risk of causing death or serious physical injury.
    7. Dangerous Fleeing Felon

      ​The Officer reasonably believes that it is necessary to prevent the escape of a fleeing subject and the Officer reasonably believes that:
      1. The subject has committed a felony involving the infliction or threatened infliction of serious physical injury or death.
      2. The escape of the subject would pose an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to the Officer or another person.
  5. Force Options (see Control Options Response Chart)
    1. Display of Force
      1. Officer Presence.
      2. Verbal Commands.
    2. Subject Control
      1. Techniques that have a minimal chance of injury. Examples: empty hand escort controls, pressure points, etc.
      2. For deployment guidelines refer to policy.
    3. Chemical Agents
      1. Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) pepper spray. For deployment guidelines refer to policy.
      2. Hand held or weapon-deployed gas/smoke. For deployment guidelines refer to policy.
    4. Intermediate Force Options
      1. Hard hands techniques (pain compliance) applied to primary target areas. Examples: nerve endings and muscle groups, which have a minimal chance of injury.
      2. Taser deployment guidelines/requirements refer to policy.
    5. Hard Hand Control
      1. Techniques that have more than a minimal chance of injury. Examples: kicks; elbow, palm, or knee strikes; punches to secondary targets such as joints, tendons, ligaments, and skeletal structure.
    6. Impact Weapons
      1. Includes those weapons authorized for use by MCCCD.
      2. For deployment guidelines/requirements, refer to MCCCD policy.
    7. Lethal Force

      ​Force that is capable of creating substantial risk of death or serious physical injury.


Officers will demonstrate knowledge of Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) and MCCCD’s use of force policy. Prior to initial duties, each officer will receive refresher training on Arizona State law and MCCCD use of force policy.

At least once a year, Officers will receive refresher training on use of force law, relevant case law, and MCCCD polices to include a written assessment component. This training will be developed, coordinated and managed by the District Director of Public Safety. A minimum score of 80% must be attained on the assessment. Failure to achieve a minimum score will subject the Officer to remedial training and reevaluation.

Proficiency skills and continuing education training records will be maintained by the District Director of Public Safety’s Office. The District Director will disseminate periodic reports to the College Directors of Public Safety on Officers and other employees of their Public Safety College Departments. An annual training report will be provided to the Vice Chancellor of Business Services by January 30th of each year on training conducted during the preceding calendar year.


The use of any force is usually reactionary in that the Officer is responding to the subject’s initial or potential actions. The Officer’s use of force is then constantly changing in response to the subject’s actions. The goal in any use of force is to stop the subject’s resistance or assault, using only the amount of force that is reasonable and necessary.

The Control Options Response Chart is a guide to assist Officers in choosing the appropriate level of force to be used to affect the arrest or maintain control over the situation. An Officer’s choice in the level of force may take into account many variables, including, but not limited to:

  1. Officer to suspect: size, gender, age, fitness level, combat skills, presence of multiple subjects, and proximity of backup.
  2. Environmental conditions: lighting, weather, clothing, and high danger area.
  3. Totality of circumstances: suspect’s danger to self or others, drug and alcohol influences, injury or exhaustion of Officer, Officer on the ground, mental state of the suspect, and prior knowledge about the suspect.

CONTROL OPTIONS CHART – (“X” indicates an authorized option)

Note: Progression of control options will normally proceed from left to right on this chart. However, Officers may immediately use any authorized option, if justified.


  1. Observe persons subjected to force options for “High Risk Indicators” of Sudden In-custody death. High risk indicators include:
    1. Bizarre/violent behavior (prior to, during, and after arrest).
    2. Obesity.
    3. Drug or alcohol use.
    4. Ineffectiveness of OC.
    5. Use of physical restraint techniques.
  2. Medical personnel should be summoned whenever the use of force creates a visible injury, complaint of injury or a suspected injury.
  3. Do not allow subjects to remain face down. Once restrained, sit subject upright and monitor their condition. Transport in upright, seated position.
  4. Persons who have been subjected to chemical agents will, as soon as is practical, after they are under police control, be afforded means of decontaminating to lessen discomfort.


  1. A Use of Force Supplement form will be prepared and submitted along with an original incident report in the following instances:
    1. When a firearm is discharged for other than training or legitimate recreational or sporting purposes.
    2. Anytime an Officer uses a pain compliance technique on a subject if it results in alleged or actual physical injury or death.
    3. When a less-lethal or lethal weapon is used on a person.
    4. When a taser has been deployed, whether contact is made with a subject or not.
    5. When action results or is alleged to have resulted in injury or death.
  2. A supervisor will be immediately summoned to the scene and will comply with investigative procedures as required by MCCCD in the following situations:
    1. When a firearm is discharged in the line-of-duty.
    2. When a use of force results in death, serious injury, or suspected injury.
    3. When a subject complains that an injury has been inflicted.
    4. When misconduct is alleged or suspected.


  1. Involved Officer
    1. When an Officer discharges his/her weapon either accidentally or officially, the Officer will immediately:
      1. Determine physical condition of any injured person, when the incident is under control, and render first aid.
      2. Request paramedics.
      3. Notify dispatch of the incident and location.
      4. Notify his/her supervisor.
      5. Protect his/her weapon for examination and submit the weapon to the scene investigator. The weapon will be kept in the condition found after the incident. The only exception is for the Officer to “check” the safety if necessary. The Officer will be issued a replacement weapon as soon after the incident as possible.
      6. Refrain from discussing the incident with anyone except for appropriate MCCCD supervisory personnel and investigating personnel.
      7. Prepare a detailed report of the incident unless directed otherwise by the investigating supervisor.
  2. Dispatcher
    1. The involved dispatcher(s) will:
      1. Notify the nearest agency of the situation and request back-up if needed.
      2. Dispatch responding units if the situation is still continuing.
      3. Notify paramedics and ambulance personnel; get direction from the Officer in Charge (OIC) where to stage medical personnel.
      4. Notify the Officer’s supervisor.
  3. College Director of Public Safety
    1. The College Director of Public Safety will:
      1. Respond immediately to the scene.
      2. Establish control of the scene.
      3. Secure the perimeter area.
      4. Direct Officers present at the scene, and evaluate the need for additional support.
      5. Notify the necessary personnel.
      6. Ensure all principal(s) and witnesses are located and kept in separate locations pending interviews. If more than one Officer is involved, they should also be separated.
      7. Brief appropriate college officials and District Director of Public Safety, and investigators about the incident.
      8. Assist all involved employees. Determine if a debriefing or support group is needed and make arrangements for them to respond.
      9. Ensure a detailed log of the incident to include dates, times, personnel involved in the investigation, and assignments are made.
      10. Notify outside agencies for assistance if needed.
  4. Responsibility for the investigation rests with the District Director of Public Safety
    1. The District Director of Public Safety or designee may call upon the assistance of an outside agency to assist in the investigation.
    2. Ensure that a thorough investigation is conducted whenever an Officer discharges a duty weapon for other than training purposes.
    3. Assigned investigators:
      1. Proceed immediately to the scene upon being notified.
      2. The assigned investigator highest in rank will be responsible for the crime scene.
      3. When a death or serious physical injury is involved a representative from the appropriate County Attorney’s office or agency with jurisdiction will be notified.
      4. Weapons of the Officer(s) involved in the shooting will be turned over for examination.
      5. All witnesses will be interviewed.
      6. The scene will be processed by the assigned investigative team.
      7. Pre-interviews of witness employees at the scene will be conducted as a fact finding mission. Separate interviews will be conducted for each person involved.
      8. Initiate an area canvas to locate additional witnesses who have pertinent information regarding the shooting.
    4. Witness employee(s) will be interviewed prior to pre-interviewing the involved Officer(s), unless exigent circumstances exist.
    5. If deemed necessary by MCCCD supervisory personnel on the scene, the involved Officer(s) may be interviewed first.
    6. Conduct an on scene critique with the investigators and the County Attorney to discuss the facts and circumstances of the case.
    7. Prior to a formal interview with the involved Officer(s), a review should be made to determine whether an admonition of Miranda warnings is appropriate. The decision to read Miranda rights will be based on the totality of the circumstances, and information available at the time of the investigation. Consultation with the County Attorney’s Office should occur prior to the admonition of rights.
  5. Where an Officer’s use of force causes death or serious physical injury, the significantly involved Officer(s) will be placed on administrative leave until cleared to return to work by a MCCCD contracted psychologist.
  6. The affected college, upon recommendation of the District Director of Public Safety, may remove any Officer from line-duty, pending review, for any excessive or inappropriate use of force. All reviews will be completed within 30 days, unless extended.
  7. Internal investigations of an Officer involved shooting or other incidents will be conducted by an agency designated by MCCCD for the following purposes:
    1. To access the scene to gather information for a later internal administrative report.
    2. To monitor interviews of witnesses, including witness officers and employees.
    3. Internal investigators will not participate in or be present during the criminal investigation interview of the Officer(s) who is/are the subject of the investigation.

MONITORING Method and Frequency

  1. Once a Use of Force Supplement is completed and reviewed, the approving college Director of Public Safety will forward the original incident report and Use of Force Supplement to the appropriate college administrator and a copy to the District Director of Public Safety for review.
  2. The District Director of Public Safety in consultation with the affected college president will determine if there are any policy, training, weapon/equipment and/or discipline issues which should be addressed.
  3. Within two weeks, the District Director of Public Safety will forward the reports and review to the Vice Chancellor of Business Services.
  4. An annual analysis will be completed at the end of each calendar year by the District Director of Public Safety and submitted to the Vice Chancellor for Business Services.

Method: Internal

Frequency (Minimum): Ongoing/Matter of Practice

ARS 13-105.34, "Serious Physical Injury"
ARS 13-409, “Justification; Use of Physical Force in Law Enforcement”
ARS 13-410, “Justification; Use of Deadly Physical Force in Law Enforcement”

AMENDED February 22, 2011, Motion No. 9781, 9782
ADOPTED October 23, 2007, Motion No. 9448