Use of Deadly Force


Consistent with our Mission and Core Values, the Village of Walworth Police Department is committed to valuing and preserving human life. The protection and preservation of all human life – including the lives of individuals being taken into custody – is the Department’s fundamental objective and the primary duty of all WPD employees. The application of deadly force is a measure of last resort, only to be employed when an officer reasonably believes all other options have been exhausted or would be ineffective.

The Department is committed to resolving conflicts through the use of communication skills, crisis intervention and de-escalation tactics, when feasible. Officers may only use that force which is objectively reasonable, and only in furtherance of a legitimate, lawful objective. “Objective reasonableness” is a test based on the totality of the circumstances. Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386 (1989). Officers will only apply force in a manner consistent with WPD’s Code of Conduct, SOP, and training.

As used in this SOP, deadly force refers to the intentional use of a firearm or other instrument that creates a high probability of death or great bodily harm.




The use of deadly force is only authorized when, under any of the following circumstances, an officer reasonably believes a lesser degree of force would be insufficient:

  1.     To protect another person or persons from what is reasonably believed to be an imminent threat of death or great bodily harm.


  1.     To protect the officer from what is reasonably believed to be an imminent threat of death or great bodily harm.
  1.     To prevent the escape of a fleeing subject when all of the following are present:


  1.     The officer has probable cause to believe that the person has committed or has attempted to commit a felony involving the use or threatened use of deadly force.


  1.     The officer reasonably believes the subject presents a continuing imminent risk of great bodily harm or death to the officer or another subject if not immediately apprehended.


  1.     To protect the officer or another from an animal which an officer reasonably believes may cause great bodily harm if not immediately controlled, or to end the suffering of an animal gravely injured or diseased after considering public view, safety, and other reasonable dispositions.



Before using deadly force, officers shall, if reasonably possible, identify themselves and order the subject to desist from unlawful activity.



Deadly force is never authorized:

  1.     As a warning shot.


  1.     From a moving vehicle, unless deadly force is justified and the consequences of not acting to stop the threat outweigh the risk created by the use of deadly force.


  1.     At a moving vehicle unless:


  1.     A person in the vehicle is threatening the officer or another person with deadly force by means other than the vehicle; or


  1.     The vehicle is operated in a manner that reasonably appears deliberately intended to strike an officer or another person, and all other reasonable means of defense have been exhausted (or are not present or practical).


  1.     When its use unreasonably risks the lives of innocent bystanders.



The intentional punching or striking of the trachea creates a substantial likelihood of death and is therefore considered deadly force and shall be used only in accordance with this SOP.



Whenever safe and feasible, officers will attempt to utilize de-escalation tactics and techniques in a manner consistent with the De-Escalation SOP.



Any officer present and observing another officer using excessive force, or engaged in unlawful conduct, or in violation of the Village of Walworth Police Department’s Code of Conduct has an affirmative obligation to intercede and report.



Once the scene is safe and as soon as practical, an officer shall provide appropriate medical care consistent with his or her training to any individual who has visible injuries, complains of being injured, or requests medical attention.



Any use of force by a member of this department shall be documented promptly, completely and accurately in a Walworth Police Department Officer Use of Force Report, in addition to an incident report. The officer should articulate the factors perceived and why he/she believed the use of force was reasonable under the circumstances. The following circumstances require an officer to complete a Walworth Police Department Use of Force Report:

  1. Firearms (including pointing a firearm at an individual)
  2. Baton or Less Lethal Impact Munitions
  3. Chemical Agents, including OC spray, or Electronic Control Devices
  4. Handcuffs or Other Restraining Devices, including hobble restraints, spit hoods, etc.
  5. Physical force, including focused and diffused strikes, pressure points, escort holds, decentralization techniques, holding or grabbing of subjects, etc. The report shall specifically note the totality of the circumstances necessitating force and the manner of force employed.

In the event any of the Use of Force tactics performed by an officer listed above result in the death of a subject, the serious bodily injury of a subject, or if an officer discharges their firearm at or in the direction of a subject, whether the rounds strike the subject or not, the officer must complete the Use of Force and Arrest-Related Death (UFAD) form in TraCS. This form will be completed in addition to the Walworth Police Department Use of Force Report, and incident report.

To collect data for purposes of training, resource allocation, analysis and related purposes, the Department may require the completion of additional report forms.



See Village of Walworth Police Department Standard Operating Procedure regarding “Officer Involved Critical Incidents”.



This Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) shall be made available to the public at no charge upon request (Wis. Stat. §66.0511(2)).


This Standard Operating Procedure cancels and supersedes any and all previous written directives relative to the subject matter contained herein