Use of Force Continuum: Training for Law Enforcement Officers and Civilians

We are a certified training vendor for professionals who need to obtain their CCW permit.

A use of force continuum is a standard that provides law enforcement officers and civilians with guidelines as to how much force may be used against a resisting subject in a given situation. In some ways, it is like the U.S. military’s escalation of force (EOF). 

The purpose of these models is to clarify, both for law enforcement officers and civilians, the complex subject of the use of force. This course is a requirement for anyone looking to obtain a CCW permit.

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Use of Continuum Training by K Street


1. Appropriate, necessary and reasonable use of force situations
2. Use of force escalation/de-escalation
3. Less than lethal use of force options
4. Mitigating a volatile situation
5. Self-defense options


This is a One-Day Class

We have multiple course dates available.

Spots are limited. See class schedules here.

Cost: $275.00


What Will You Learn at The Use Of Force Continuum Training?

The K-Street Group’s use of force continuum training focuses on how and when to use varying levels of force appropriately and correctly. Our training focuses on use of force decision-making in potentially threatening situations. You’ll receive training on the correct actions that should be taken if and when the use of force is justified. This course brings together components of behavioral performance capability, mental preparedness, verbal defense, less-than-lethal options, situational awareness, and reality application scenarios.

This course is appropriate for law enforcement, security officers, first responders, and other security professionals.

1. Appropriate, necessary and reasonable use of force situations

While no use of force is considered the ideal method for resolving a situation, officers must learn when use of force is justified and appropriate. This course clarifies when different levels of force are considered reasonable in order to avoid unnecessary use of force.

2. Use of force escalation/de-escalation

The use of force continuum includes several levels of force officers can take, ranging from no force to lethal force. It is crucial that officers and civilians understand the various intermediary levels involved in escalation and de-escalation of the use of force.

3. Less than lethal use of force options

There are several options for use of force that are not lethal. This course explores those options in order to prepare officers with the tools they need to gain control of a situation without escalating to lethal force.

4. Mitigating a volatile situation

The ultimate goal for any safety officer is mitigation of a volatile and potentially-threatening situation. Our Use of Force Continuum course offers training on how to evaluate a situation and make appropriate decisions on the use of force.

5. Self-defense options

The use of force may be necessary in self-defense or to protect others. Our use of force continuum course offers training in when and how it is appropriate to use force in self-defense.

The Levels of Use of Force Continuum

A use of force continuum includes varying levels of force that officers can follow to escalate or de-escalate the use of force in situations when force is justified. The levels of the use of force continuum vary, as many agencies have created their own use of force continuum. However, most continuums include levels similar to this:

Presence of an Officer

The mere presence of an officer can de-escalate a situation. This is the preferred method on the continuum, as it involves no use of force.


Verbalization includes the use of verbal orders, rather than physical force, to stop a crime or prevent threatening situations from escalating. Verbal orders should be clear and understandable, non-threatening, and calmly, but firmly, spoken. These verbal commands may include simple phrases such as “stop” or “don’t move,” or more complex directional phrases.

Empty-hand Control

Empty-hand control is the use of bodily force, rather than weapons, to gain control of a threatening situation. This includes a “soft technique” such as holding or restraining an individual. If a “soft technique” is not effective, officers may use a “hard technique” which includes kicking or punching to restrain an individual. This is the lowest level of physical force, and has a lower likelihood of causing damage to the subject.

Less Lethal Options

Less lethal options are intended to confuse or incapacitate an individual, allowing the officer to gain control of the situation without the use of deadly force. These options may include a baton, a Taser, pepper spray, or other chemical sprays. This should only be used when other methods of force have been ineffective, as they have a higher chance of causing more severe damage to the suspect or to bystanders.

Lethal Force

Lethal weapons should only be used when the suspect poses a threat of death or serious injury to an officer or other individual.

FAQs About Use of Force Continuum

What Does Deadly Force Mean?

Deadly force is the use of a lethal weapon, such as a firearm. It is the highest level on the use of force continuum, and should only be used in life-threatening situations.

When Can Police Use Force?

Every situation varies, but the use of force continuum offers police and other security professionals guidelines on when use of force is justified. Generally, officers are permitted to use force when it is necessary for self-defense or defense of others, but there is no hard rule on when police officers can use force.

What Is Reasonable Force?

Generally, reasonable force is defined as the amount of force necessary to protect oneself or one’s property. The term “reasonable force” comes from a U.S. Supreme Court case ruling focused on how to judge whether a specific use of force was excessive. The Court ruled that, according to the Fourth Amendment, force is justified when a “reasonable” officer on the scene would judge the force necessary.

Why Is Use of Force Training Important For Law Enforcement Officers?

Use of Force Continuum training is important in helping law enforcement officers defuse and de-escalate situations before they become life-threatening. The training is crucial in preventing unnecessary uses of force by teaching law enforcement officers when specific levels of force are necessary or justified. At its core, use of force training helps officers keep potentially-threatening situations under control, thereby maintaining a higher level of safety.

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