The purpose of this research is to examine and discuss the use of lethal force in policing. Over the past few years there have been high profile cases, such as the shooting deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Samuel Dubose in Cincinnati, Ohio, which have launched lethal force into the mainstream media. In 2015, The Washington Post created a database which found that there were close to 1,000 police shooting deaths in the United States. Due to this increased focus on the use of lethal force, this research examines training and policy, the effects on officers, and the accountability of officers using lethal force. Research found that training in lethal force varies depending on states and departments, which may lead to accountability issues. Officers who discharge their weapons in the field often find themselves experiencing a number of sensory distortions and may suffer from negative effects for days, weeks, and months following a shooting incident. When holding officers accountable, it has been found that in-house investigations tend to have biased tendencies and technologies such as body cameras, while offering a number of benefits, may not be as definite of a solution as perceived. Based upon these findings, recommendations are made to help guide future research or suggest potential improvements for training and investigations in the use of lethal force.

Semester/Year of Award

Fall 2016


Bill Sullivan

Mentor Professional Affiliation

Safety, Security, and Emergency Management

Access Options

Restricted Access Thesis

Document Type

Bachelor Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars

Degree Level



Safety, Security, and Emergency Management