Taking the Straw Man to the Ground: Arguments in Support of the Linear Use-of-Force Continuum

During the last several years, there has been a resurgence of the debate surrounding the linear use-of-force continuum. A number of professionals have argued that force continuums must be laid to rest; they argue in favor of a continuumless “just be reasonable” standard. The “just be reasonable” proponents have made their arguments in articles and conferences with way too little rebuttal to what the authors will argue below are specious and unsupported claims. Shults writes that “the use-of-force continuum is dying a slow death.”1 To paraphrase Mark Twain, the authors believe that the reports of the continuum’s demise are, in fact, greatly exaggerated. They also believe a movement in that direction can be thwarted if the unsupported claims and the straw-man arguments that have characterized the “just be reasonable” perspective are laid bare. In an era in which evidence-based policing is becoming the norm, the authors are surprised and dismayed at the traction the “no continuum” promoters have achieved absent a shred of research.