Policy: Use of Force and Weapons


The purpose of this order is to establish the Michigan State University Police Department (Department) regulations regarding weapons and the use of force.


It is the policy of the Department that it is necessary for police officers to be equipped with firearms and other approved weapons for the protection of the public and the officers. The Department also recognizes that as long as members of the public are victims of crimes of violence, officers in the performance of their duties may be confronted with escalating levels of violence, including deadly force.

Therefore, it is the policy of the Department that officers shall not use more force in any situation than is reasonably necessary under the circumstances. Officers shall use force only in accordance with law and Department rules.



Taking action or communicating verbally or non-verbally during a potential force encounter in an attempt to stabilize the situation and reduce the immediacy of the threat so that more time, options, and resources can be called upon to resolve the situation without the use of force or with a reduction in the force necessary.

De-escalation may include the use of such techniques as officers’ presence, advisements, warnings, verbal persuasion, and tactical repositioning.

Force Matrix

The Force Matrix is composed of the following five levels of force:

Level I: Officer Presence

Level II: Verbal Direction

Level III: Empty Hand Control

Level IV: Intermediate Weapon

Level V: Deadly Force

Decision Making

An officer’s decision about the level of force necessary to control an individual will be based on the officer’s perception of the threat and the subject’s apparent ability to carry out that threat.

An additional factor is the officer’s knowledge of his or her own physical ability to manage the threat presented. If the officer does not have sufficient skills or abilities to establish control with empty hand control methods, then the level of force must be escalated based on training and this policy.

Once an officer determines that force must be used, the level will be dependent upon the officer’s perception of resistance and whether that resistance is placing the officer or another person in jeopardy of serious injury or death. It is important to note that each officer’s perception of the danger and level of resistance will be based upon past training, experience, and knowledge of physical control techniques.

The individual’s behavior, which leads to the officer’s perception for the need of force, must be documented in the incident report and on the Use of Force Form.

Body Armor

All officers at the rank of Lieutenant and below shall be issued concealable soft body armor that shall be worn at all times the officer is assigned to duty in a patrol or special event position.

Department issued concealable soft body armor are not required to be worn by officers working in administrative assignments.


General Provisions

Use of physical force should be discontinued when resistance ceases or when the incident is under control.

Physical force shall not be used against individuals in restrains, except as objectively reasonable to prevent their escape or prevent imminent bodily injury to the individual, the officer, or another person.

Once the scene is safe and as soon as practical, an officer shall provide appropriate medical care consistent with their training to any individual who has visible injuries, complains of being injured, or requests medical attention. This may include providing first aid, requesting emergency medical services, and/or arranging for transportation to an emergency medical facility.

An officer has a duty to intervene to prevent or stop the use of excessive force by another officer when it is safe and reasonable to do so.

Officers shall as soon as practical, report instances of excessive force to a supervisor.

All uses of force shall be documented and reviewed pursuant to this agency’s policies.


An officer shall use de-escalation techniques and other alternatives to higher levels of force consistent with their training whenever possible and appropriate before resorting to force and to reduce the need for force.

Whenever possible and when such delay will not compromise the safety of the officer or another and will not result in the destruction of evidence, escape of a suspect, or commission of a crime, an officer shall allow an individual time and opportunity to submit to verbal commands before force is used.

Force Matrix

Officer Presence and Verbal Direction

The majority of situations can be resolved by good communication skills or verbal direction. Often, the mere presence of an officer and proper verbal direction will be sufficient to persuade most individuals to follow that direction.

De-Escalation techniques involve managing what occurs in any verbal confrontation. Individuals may experience fear and anger that must be defused before an individual will be able to understand the officer’s commands. This requires good communication skills and patience. Successful communication techniques can prevent many physical confrontations from escalating to higher levels.

Empty Hand Control

Empty Hand Control techniques cover a number of subject control methods. Some methods may be as subtle as gently guiding a subject’s movements, to more forceful techniques such as strikes, or kicks, which may have a higher potential of injury.

This level of control is designed to control low levels of resistance, but can be used to control any level of resistance. It can also be used for high levels of defensive resistance, active aggression, or aggravated active aggression. These techniques are applied when lower forms of control have failed and are not applicable when the subject’s resistance level is at a dangerous level.

Control is delivered by use of techniques or strikes with an officer’s open hand, fist, forearm, elbow, knee, leg or foot. In strikes, the target points are the major motor points of the median, radial, common peroneal, femoral, brachial plexus, or tibial nerve masses. This is accomplished by striking or blocking at major muscle mass such as the legs, arms, shoulders, or side of the neck and shoulder.

Lateral vascular neck restraints and “chokeholds”, are prohibited unless deadly force is authorized.

Intermediate Weapon

This level of control employs the use of department approved tools to control subjects when deadly force is not justified and Empty Hand Control techniques are not sufficient to control an individual. Whenever an officer uses an intermediate weapon, it must always be with the intent to temporarily disable an offender, and never with the intent to create permanent injury.

No officer shall carry or use an intermediate weapon in which he/she has not successfully completed training.

The intermediate weapon shall not be used as an intimidation device, unless the officer is attempting to prevent further escalation of violence.

Types of Intermediate Weapons

Defensive Repellents are less‑lethal weapons intended to provide an alternative method for avoiding physical force in overcoming defensive resistance or preventing unlawful activity. All defensive repellents are to be handled, stored and treated as weapons.


Uniform Duty

Each sworn member of the Department is issued a defensive repellent canister. The canister must be carried on the gun belt in the approved carrier at all times while the employee is in uniform. The Chief of Police (Chief) or designee must approve exceptions to this provision.


Some officers will be issued “pocket” canisters to be carried while on plainclothes duty. The canisters will be carried as appropriate to the current duties being performed and/or as directed by the employee’s immediate supervisor.


Defensive repellent is viewed as a less‑lethal method for avoiding physical force and minimizing injury to suspects, officers or others; and to avoid property damage. This substance is to be regarded as a less‑lethal weapon, which may be used for preventing injury to officers and other citizens.

The repellent is designed to react with nasal membranes and the fatty tissue of the face. Therefore the repellent is to be sprayed directly at the face in accordance with department training. Air is the most effective antidote for decontamination of the repellent. Soap and water should be used to wash the affected skin area at the earliest opportunity. Prisoners should be afforded the opportunity to wash at the earliest time dependent upon security concerns. Contaminated clothing should be removed and allowed to dry as reasonable to the circumstances.

Under certain circumstances, the Department may direct that the defensive repellent not be used.

All expended canisters are to be returned to the Police Services Bureau Commander or designee. None are to be disposed of by the individual officer. The Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Office may be consulted regarding the current disposal method.

Taser is a less-lethal Conducted Energy Weapon (CEW) that transmits electrical pulses to override the central nervous system and control of the skeletal muscles.

Issuance: Only Department issued Tasers shall be carried and used. Officers must complete the Department authorized Taser training program prior to issuance and use.


Use shall be in accordance with established Department approved training guidelines.

Tasers shall only be used against persons who are actively resisting or exhibiting aggression; or to prevent individuals from harming themselves or others. Tasers should not be used against a passive suspect.

No more than one officer should activate a Taser against a person at a time.

Tasers should not be used against pregnant women, elderly persons, young children, and visibly frail persons; unless exigent circumstances exist.

Tasers should not be used on handcuffed persons, unless that person is actively resisting, exhibiting active aggression, or unless exigent circumstances exist.

Tasers should not generally be used when a subject is in a location where a fall may cause substantial injury or death.

Officers should avoid firing probes at the head, neck, chest and genitalia.

All persons who have been exposed to a Taser activation shall receive a medical evaluation. Emergency Medical Services shall transport the patient to a medical facility. Medically trained personnel shall remove the probes and evaluate the patient. Officers will remain with the patient until medical personnel provide a signed medical release. The subject will be subsequently transported and lodged in a jail facility if the person is to be incarcerated.

Any injuries should be documented appropriately and photographed, unless the injury is in or near parts of the body that are recognized to be gender sensitive and/or sexual organs. A copy of the medical release shall be made available to the lodging facility upon request.

All persons who have been subjected to a Taser activation should be monitored regularly while in police custody, even if they received medical care.

Taser probes that have been removed from a subject should be treated as a biohazard. The probes can be disposed of in appropriate “sharps” containers, if they are not needed as evidence.

Following a Taser activation, officers should use a restraint technique that does not impair respiration. When possible, a supervisor should respond to all Taser deployments.

Tasers should not be used in the known presence of combustible vapors or liquids or other flammable substances. Alcohol-based Oleoresin Capsicum (O.C.) Spray is flammable. When assisting other agencies be aware of this concern.

A warning should be given to a person prior to activating the Taser, unless to do so would place any other person at risk.

A Use of Force Form shall be completed following all Taser deployments, except during training. This shall also include those instances when officers display but do not deploy the Taser. Tasers may be used on aggressive animals when warranted.

Other Intermediate Weapons

Department issued baton is to be used only in crowd control and civil disturbance situations.

Deployment: a baton has been placed with crowd control supplies and shields.

In some situations, certain officers may be directed to carry the baton while on special assignment or civil disturbance duty.

Use: strikes or blocks with a baton weapon shall be directed in accordance with the following considerations:

Primary Targets- Major motor points of the common peroneal, femoral, or tibial nerve masses.

This is accomplished by striking appropriate points located on the thighs or calves.

Deadly Force Targets: head, neck, throat, groin, and clavicle should be avoided.

Impact weapon strikes to these areas shall not be used unless the officer is justified in using deadly force.

These areas have high implications for creating severe injury or death.

Kinetic Energy Projectiles: the Department has authorized less-lethal devices designed to deliver kinetic energy projectiles.

These are special purpose weapons and will not normally be deployed for regular patrol activities.

Only those individuals trained are authorized to deploy these weapons.

The use of a K-9 unit in either an apprehension or defensive manner is considered an intermediate weapon.

Refer to the current K-9 procedures (OPR09)

Prohibited or Restricted Intermediate Weapons

Non‑issued baton type weapons, saps, sap gloves, blackjacks, and similar devices shall not be carried or used.

Chemical weapons, such as Mace, Cap‑Stun, and similar substances shall not be carried or used.

Mechanical (spring or gravity operated or similar), survival, combat, and/or double‑edged knives shall not be carried or used.

Department issued patrol knives are designed primarily as a rescue tool.

The patrol knife may be used during a deadly force situation when there is no apparent alternative; and its use falls within use of deadly force guidelines.

Use of Deadly Force

Deadly Force Justification: justification for the use of deadly force must be limited to what reasonably appear to be the facts known or perceived by an officer at the time the officer decides to act.

Facts unknown to an officer, no matter how compelling, may not be considered in determining whether the action was justified.

Defense of Self or Others: an officer may use deadly force when, in the officer’s reasonable belief:

the use is necessary to defend the officer or another from an immediate threat of death or serious injury; and,

there is no apparent alternative; and,

the safety of bystanders will not be unreasonably jeopardized by the officer’s actions

Subject Fleeing From an Arrest

An officer may use deadly force to prevent a subject fleeing an arrest when, in the officer’s reasonable belief:

there is no apparent alternative; and,

the safety of bystanders will not be unreasonably jeopardized, and,

the suspect was involved in a confrontation situation as described above, or the officer has probable cause to believe the subject known to the officer has committed:


Criminal Sexual Conduct I or III

Armed Robbery

Felonious Assault

Arson involving the attempt or completion of the burning of a structure (this does not include minor pranks or similar actions regardless of the damage or injury involved)



Even in the above listed felonies, deadly force must be limited to only the most critical of circumstances wherein it is reasonable to believe that the continued freedom of the felon could result in the death or serious injury of another person.

When feasible, prior to utilizing deadly force to apprehend a fleeing felon, an officer should provide a warning.

A warning similar to “Halt, Police” or “Stop or I’ll Shoot” is sufficient.

Treatment of Persons in Custody

Officers shall not mistreat persons in their custody.

Officers shall use force only in accordance with current law and Department procedures.

Use of Force Form and Reports

A Use of Force Form will be completed by any officer involved in a use of force situation.

The Form will be directed to the Chief and the Police Services Bureau Commander.

The Forms are available on the Department’s forms software program.

The following are situations where a Use of Force Form is required:

Anytime a firearm is discharged except for training purposes, to dispose of injured animals, or for control of pests.

In all instances where a weapon is drawn or displayed by an officer in the presence of a citizen; except during a training exercise, armed escort, pest control or during an alarm response.

Any use of kinetic energy or less-lethal projectiles, other than for training.

Any use of force incident where Department issued defensive repellant and/or Taser is used.

Any incident where a weapon is used to control an individual.

Any incident where force is used to subdue a non-compliant individual.

Handcuffs and Restraints

The purpose of handcuffs, flex-cuffs, ankle restraints, or similar devices is to restrain the movement of individuals in a manner that provides a safe means of transportation for officers, subjects, and others.

Restraints also prevent further physical resistance from an individual.

Officers must exercise safety awareness by reasonably restraining all arrested subjects.

Rare exceptions to this rule would involve persons so old or so young that a threat is unlikely, incapacitated persons, or persons so infirm as to be of no threat to the officer.

Officers shall handcuff a subject with the hands in the back. Exceptions are:

Injuries, deformities, disabilities, or physical limitations, which prevent the arms from being moved to the back.

Use of special transport devices that restrain the hands at the side.

Transport chains used for multiple prisoners, however; both wrists must be handcuffed.

The officer will double-lock all handcuffs, unless it is tactically unsafe to do so.

Sufficient space must be allowed to prevent unnecessary tightness and training teaching to use the “little‑finger” rule to test for tightness.

Subjects will not be handcuffed to vehicles, fixed or portable objects, except under the most extraordinary of circumstances.

Extraordinary circumstances must be articulated in the incident report and on the Use of Force Form.

If the subject continues to resist after being restrained, the officer shall use control techniques in accordance with these procedures and relevant training to prevent injury.

Persons placed in a prone position with foot and hand restraints behind their back shall be avoided because appositional asphyxia could happen to persons sprayed with defensive repellant or due to other medical conditions.

Firearms and Ammunition

Display of Weapon: Officers shall draw and display weapons only when in reasonable fear for their own safety or the safety of others; such instances would include but not necessarily be limited to, arrests for offenses identified in these procedures.

Restrictions: Officers must recognize that the Department’s procedures regarding the use of firearms are more restrictive than the authority granted under state law.

On‑Duty Handgun: Each officer is issued a primary and/or secondary handgun by the Department that is to be carried while on-duty as appropriate to the assignment.

Off‑Duty Handgun

The Department does not require that an officer be armed while off-duty.

If an officer chooses to carry a weapon while off-duty, the weapon may not be carried when an officer’s abilities or faculties may be impaired by the consumption of alcoholic beverages, prescription or non‑prescription medicine, or any other substance.

If an officer chooses to carry a weapon while off-duty, the weapon must be either Department issued; or a personally owned weapon that has been approved and safety inspected by the Department.

The officer must meet the qualification requirements for any weapon carried off-duty, as outlined elsewhere in these procedures.

A probationary police officer may not carry off-duty until they have successfully entered Step V of their field training program.

For an officer to carry a firearm under the police authority delegated by this Department (including deputization) while off‑duty, then that firearm must be a Department-issued weapon.

Only with prior approval of the Chief, may an officer substitute a personal handgun for a Department issued weapon carried off-duty.

Only Department-approved ammunition may be used in all firearms carried under police authority.

If an officer desires to carry a firearm other than a Department-issued or a Department-approved, personally owned weapon, then the officer must obtain a Concealed Pistol License Permit and/or other necessary documents.

Such non-issued and/or non-Department approved personally owned weapons shall not be carried under the police authority of this Department.

Secondary Weapon Characteristics

The officer who elects to carry the Department-issued secondary firearm or similar weapon, must be aware that design factors such as barrel length, weight, and capacity that make such weapons convenient to conceal and carry; also significantly impact their effectiveness.

The secondary firearm must be considered a close-range weapon and that factor must be taken into account in any situation requiring the use of a firearm.

Department Authorized Shoulder Weapons


The Department-issued patrol rifle can be deployed by any Department member that has met the qualification standard for the weapon.

If a Department member has not qualified with the weapon, they will be deemed “not qualified” and will be required to meet the requirements of this policy.

It is the officer’s responsibility to inspect the patrol rifle at the beginning of every shift.

If during the inspection, or at any other time, the officer determines that something is wrong; a supervisor shall be notified immediately.







Firing at Fleeing Vehicles

Officers shall not fire their weapons at fleeing vehicles, except in cases where the vehicle occupant is known to be a dangerous felon as previously defined and where the subsequent crash of the vehicle would not endanger citizens.


Ammunition: officers will only use Department-approved ammunition in Department-owned and/or Department-approved, personally owned weapons when carried or used under this Department’s police authority.


Officers must meet the minimum standards of qualification for scheduled annual sessions for any weapons carried as a condition of employment with the Department.

Make-up sessions will be held for Department approved leaves of absence.

An officer who fails to meet the minimum standards will:

Be provided a 30‑day time period in which to receive additional training.

If minimum shift strengths can be maintained, this training may be provided on‑duty; otherwise training will be off‑duty and during un-compensated time.

Be provided an opportunity at the end of the 30‑day period to re‑qualify.

After the additional training, an officer who continues to fail at qualifying in the use of their Department-issued primary firearm, will be considered not qualified for purposes of this policy.

Any officer who is not qualified with their Department-issued primary firearm will be suspended without pay until such time that proficiency in the use of that firearm can be demonstrated.

If the officer still cannot qualify with the firearm after an additional 60 days of training as outlined above, the officer will be terminated from employment with the Department.

An officer who continues to fail at qualifying in the use of the secondary firearm will be considered not qualified for purposes of this policy.

Any officer who is not qualified with the secondary firearm will be considered incompetent to carry that firearm and prohibited from carrying it until such time that proficiency in the use of the secondary firearm can be demonstrated.

An officer who continues to fail at qualifying in the use of a personally-owned firearm that has been approved for use by the Department will be considered not qualified for purposes of this policy.

Any officer who is not qualified with the personally-owned firearm will be considered incompetent to carry that firearm and prohibited from carrying it until such time that proficiency in the use of the personally-owned firearm can be demonstrated.

While the Department requires the officer to maintain the minimum standards as set forth by the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES) for purposes of continued employment, additional training and qualifications will be provided.

This may include, but is not limited to:

Decision shooting




Shoulder weapon shooting; as well as other types of firearms training.

Officers are expected to demonstrate a proficiency in the use of firearms in each of these trainings as well.

Circumstances involving officers who cannot fire a qualifying course because of temporary medical handicaps will be considered on a case‑by‑case basis.

The Department may invoke restrictions and requirements as determined by each situation.

Department members shall shoot the qualification course for the Department-issued patrol rifle on an annual basis.

If the Department member cannot shoot a passing score, they will be given an opportunity to practice and attempt the course again.

Any officer who is not qualified with the Department-issued patrol rifle will be considered incompetent to carry that firearm and prohibited from carrying it until such time that proficiency in the use of the firearm can be demonstrated.

Chemical Munitions

All chemical munitions are to be handled, stored and treated as weapons.

Chemical munitions are to be stored under supervisory lock and key. They are to be issued only on the order of the Chief or designee.

Use of Chemical Munitions: To minimize injury to suspects, officers and others or to avoid property damage; the use of a riot control agent (RCA) may be necessary in circumstances where a serious danger to life and/or property exists and other methods of control or apprehension would be ineffective or more dangerous.


The Incident Commander at an incident has the responsibility for determining the need for the use of a chemical agent and possesses the authority to direct its deployment.

In no event can an officer below the rank of Sergeant give authorization for the use of a chemical agent.

The issuance of chemical munitions for crowd and/or riot control must be authorized by the Chief or designee.

All officers shall return any unused issued chemical agents upon termination of the disturbance, incident or training session for which it was issued.


The Police Services Bureau Commander or designee will ensure that the chemical munitions supply is inventoried annually and reported to the Chief or designee.

After each incident or training session that necessitates the issuance of chemical munitions, the Police Services Bureau Commander or designee will conduct an inventory and report those results to the Chief or designee.

Only pre-designated officers who have been trained in the use of launching weapons shall be issued and operate launching weapons; and then only in accordance with such training and associated procedures.

Less-Lethal Munitions

The use of less-lethal impact projectiles also referred to as “kinetic energy projectiles” have proven to be an effective tool.

In order to reduce the potential for injury, devices delivering less-lethal projectiles must be properly deployed and their use directly supervised.

Force Matrix Placement

The use of kinetic energy projectiles is considered an intermediate weapon on the Force Matrix and are deployed to the area of the suspect’s body that is considered unlikely to cause death or serious physical injury.

The use of a less than lethal projectile would be considered deadly force only when the projectile is intentionally deployed to a location recognized as likely to cause death or serious physical injury, i.e., head, neck, throat, groin.

Officers will apply the Force Matrix as set out in this policy when deploying less-lethal munitions.

Considerations for Use

Less-lethal impact devices may be used when other levels and/or types of control would be inappropriate or unreasonable in light of all the facts and circumstances reasonably known by an officer at the time these devices are used.

Kinetic energy projectiles will only be deployed by officers that have successfully completed the required training.

Kinetic energy weapon systems may be deployed in special situations or during a civil disorder incident at the direction of the Chief or designee.

In situations that arise during the course of day-to-day operations that call for immediate response, the duty supervisor may authorize the use of less-lethal impact devices.

The kinetic energy projectiles work as a pain compliance tool and the oleoresin capsicum (OC) powder contained in select projectiles are designed to react with a person’s nasal membranes and the fatty tissue of the face to impact the person’s ability to cause harm.

Kinetic energy projectiles shall be aimed in accordance with the following considerations:

Primary Targets are those that include: Major motor points and muscle mass locations.

Deadly Force Targets are aiming for the head, neck, throat and/or groin.

These areas shall not be targeted unless the officer is justified in using deadly force as outlined in this policy.

These areas have increased implications for creating severe injury or death.

Medical Treatment

Persons who are struck with less-lethal projectiles shall be given medical treatment at the earliest possible time without sacrificing the safety of police personnel and innocent bystanders.

Air is the most effective antidote for the decontamination from the OC powder inside the projectiles.

Prisoners should be afforded the opportunity to wash the OC powder from their body at the earliest time, dependent upon security concerns.