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Martial Arts: Security and Law Enforcement

An Introduction to Force Decisions

Part 2 - The Only Effective Means to Stop Extreme Violence

By Rory Miller

Editor's Note:This article is the second of two based on the author's book, "Force Decisions" available in' e-store. The author states, "The book is a gift, a peace offering. It is an attempt to communicate across a vast gulf in culture and experience, the gulf that exists between the Law Enforcement community and those whom they protect." In part 1 of this article the author details that when faced with evil, violent people appeasement doesn't work. Neither does bribery,  pay- offs or peaceful resistance. The only defense is good people who are more skilled at violence.

Hard Truth #3

That in the extreme moment, only force can stop force.

That’s the truth, and in it lies the first problem:

Given that only violence can stop violence, and given that a modern, affluent, egalitarian society requires a certain amount of peace and trust to operate, who will be responsible for wielding this violence-stopping violence?

In caste systems throughout the world, there is a warrior caste with the power to make war externally and visit justice internally. In European history, the nobility of the medieval period were professional fighters responsible both for war abroad and for justice on their own lands.

There were problems inherent in this model. What we consider an “abuse of power” had no meaning to the medieval mind. The lord had the power and could use it as he saw fit. Only a more powerful lord could intervene and only as far as he felt the force available to him would carry the day.

Modern societies have been forced to work with both the fact that force is sometimes necessary and the social belief that force is inherently wrong—the “last resort of the ignorant.” The modern solution has been to create professions, soldiers and police, authorized to use force in the name of and for the benefit of society as a whole.

Looked at shallowly, this seems to present a paradox. If a John Wayne Gacy or Jeffrey Dahmer (serial killers and rapists, and Dahmer a cannibal) handcuffs someone and takes them against their will to another place, it is kidnapping. When an officer does it, it is an arrest. When a citizen shoots another citizen, it is usually murder. When an officer shoots someone, it is closely scrutinized, but it is usually an “incident,” not a crime.

The analogy doesn’t hold true all the time. Most of the time, officers are expected to act like citizens—follow traffic laws, respect other people’s property, and not randomly blaze away with their handguns.

But when law enforcement officers are being enforcement officers, it isn’t a ‘most of the time’ situation. The standard social rules, the way that life and people are expected to be, have already failed or started the downhill slide. ‘Most of the time’ people respect each other’s persons and property. ‘Most of the time’ people can be reasoned with and will do the right thing. ‘Most of the time’ you don’t need the cops.

Referees in any sport are not and cannot be held to the same standards as the players. They have to do things players aren’t supposed to do, such as confront other players and sometimes eject them from the game.

When you do need officers to respond, it is because the social rules, the way most of us agree things should be, are being ignored. Someone has decided to act the way he wants to instead of the way he should. It is unlikely that the social corrections will work when people are already off the social map.

Acknowledgment: Part 1 & 2 of this article originally appeared as an article "An Introduction To Force Decisions" on in the article section and are posted with consent of

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About The Author:

Rory Miller has served for seventeen years in corrections as an officer and sergeant working maximum security, booking and mental health; leading a tactical team; and teaching subjects ranging from Defensive Tactics and Use of Force to First Aid and Crisis Communications with the Mentally Ill.

To find more articles of interest, search on one of these keywords:

Use of force in socieity, security, force justification, police, law enforcment

Read more articles by Rory Miller

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