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Moravian University Police Department’s Use of Force policy

Moravian University Police Department
Subject Accreditation
Use of Force PLEAC: 1.3.1, .1.3.2, 1.3.3, 1.3.4, 1.3.9
Number Total Pages
5.1 4
Date of Issue Effective Date Rescinds
March 15, 2019 March 15, 2019 Section 303.00
Amends Re-Evaluation Date
5.1 – March 16, 2019  
Distribution Authorized by
All Personnel Chief George Boksan


The purpose of this policy is to provide police officers of the department with guidelines on the use of deadly and less-lethal force.


This Department recognizes and respects the value and special integrity of each human life. In vesting police officers with the lawful authority to use force to protect the public welfare, a careful balancing of all human interests is required. Therefore, it is the policy of this Department that police officers shall use only that force that is reasonably necessary to effect lawful objectives in conformance to the provisions of the Pennsylvania Crime Code, Title 18, Chapter 5, “General Principles of Justification,” other Pennsylvania statutory provisions, and applicable State and Federal court decisions


  1. Parameters for Use of Deadly Force:
    1. Police officers are authorized to use deadly force under the provisions of 18 PA C.S.A. § 508 (Use of Force in Law Enforcement) when:
      1. A police officer believes that such force is necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury to himself/herself or such person, or when he believes that both:
        1. Such force is necessary to prevent the arrest from being defeated by resistance or escape, and
        2. The person to be arrested has committed or attempted a forcible felony or is attempting escape and possesses a deadly weapon, or otherwise indicates that he/she will endanger human life or inflict serious bodily injury unless arrested without delay.
    2. Before using a firearm, police officers shall identify themselves and state their intent to shoot, where feasible.
    3. A police officer may also safely discharge a weapon under the following circumstances:
      1. During firearms training and/or for recreational purposes.
      2. To destroy an animal that represents a threat to public safety, or as a humanitarian measure where the animal is seriously injured.
      3. In the performance of duties as an approved armorer
    4. Police officers shall adhere to the following restrictions when their weapon is exhibited:
      1. Except for maintenance or during training, police officers shall not draw or exhibit their firearm unless circumstances create reasonable cause to believe that it may be necessary to use the weapon in conformance with this policy.
      2. Officers are prohibited from firing warning shots under any circumstances.
      3. Officers shall not discharge a firearm at or from a moving vehicle except under the following conditions:
        1. As a last resort measure of self-defense when the actor is using deadly force by means other than the vehicle.
        2. As a last resort measure of self-defense when a vehicle is being driven in a manner deliberately intended to kill or injure an officer or citizen.
        3. As a last resort to prevent the escape of a fleeing felon when the use of deadly force is otherwise justified.
  2. Parameters for Use of Less-Lethal Force:
    1. Where deadly force is not authorized, officers shall use only that level of force on the force continuum that is reasonably necessary to de-escalate the incident and bring it under control.
    2. Police officers are authorized to use Department approved less-lethal force techniques and issued equipment for resolution of incidents as follows:
      1. To protect themselves or another from physical harm.
      2. To restrain or subdue a resistant individual.
      3. To bring an unlawful situation safely and effectively under control.
  3. Use of Force Continuum - The following is a use of force continuum that will serve as a guideline for officers when deciding the appropriate level of force to be used. Nothing in this continuum will require that an officer use all lower levels of force before using the appropriate level. Circumstances and reasonableness will determine what level of force on the continuum that an officer will begin with.
    1. Social Control: Presence of Law Enforcement Representative
    2. Verbal control: Persuasion / Advice / Warning
    3. Control Modes Without Weapons: Soft Empty Hand Techniques and Hard Empty Hand Techniques / Holding / Stunning / Direct Mechanical
      1. The use of neck restraints, choke holds or any other similar control technique are not authorized unless the hold is used as a technique in a deadly force situation.
    4. Control Modes with Weapons: Control Instruments / Impact Weapons / Chemical Agents / K-9 / conducted energy weapon
    5. Firearms and Other Lethal Force
  4. Less-Lethal Weapons
    1. Officers will only use Department issued less lethal weapons and will ensure that they are available and at their disposal while performing patrol duties. Officers are not authorized to use a less lethal weapon unless qualified in its proficient use as determined by training procedures and under the direction of a certified instructor. Skill and proficiency in the use of less-lethal weapons shall be shown prior to approval being granted to carry said equipment. Should an Officer not be able to demonstrate skill and proficiency, the officer will be given the opportunity to appear at the next scheduled day of less lethal training or when so ordered by the applicable weapon’s instructor. The weapon’s instructor shall provide the Officer with any remedial instruction where warranted and continue same until skill and proficiency is achieved. Less-lethal weapons are not authorized for off-duty carry and use
      1. Department Authorized Less Lethal Weapons:
        1. Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) Foam
        2. Extendable Baton
        3. Taser Models X26P
      2. The Less Lethal Weapons Should Be Used To:
        1. De-escalate a dangerous or potentially deadly situation.
        2. Control, detain, or arrest a subject/suspect
        3. Protect officers or other persons from harm (including the suspect/subject from self-inflicted injury
  5. Weapons of last resort
    1. The department recognizes that in some extreme circumstances, where the safety or survival of the officer is in jeopardy, the situation may dictate utilizing other implements as weapons. These weapons might include an officer’s flashlight, metal clipboard, knife, or even a motor vehicle, etc. However, such implements used as weapons should be viewed as weapons of last resort. The use of such weapons will be closely examined, as well as, the degree of exigency presents in the situation, the totality of the circumstances, and the existence or absence of other acceptable alternatives.


  1. Deadly Force: Any use of force that is likely to cause death or serious bodily harm.
  2. Less-Lethal Force: Any use of force other than that which is considered deadly force.