Flight Syndrome

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Upon seeing this discussion question, the first thing that came to mind was the force continuum, which dictates the level of response in an event. This can be presented in different ways, such as a simple graph, or as a perpetual flow chart. The force continuum is broken down into six levels. Each level is designed to be flexible, as the need for force changes, and the situation develops. Starting with level one being simple officer presence, followed by verbal commands, which is level two, level three begins open hand, non-weapon to stop aggression. When a suspect is violent or threatening, more extreme, but non-deadly measures must be used to bring the suspect under control, or affect an arrest, such as use of pepper spray, baton or a taser. Level five is less-lethal, followed by level six, deadly force. If a peace officer has probable cause to believe that a suspect poses a significant threat of death, or serious bodily injury to the officer, or others then the use of deadly force is justified. (Tennessee v. Garner) A clinical explanation begins within the anatomy of the brain. The synapses that fire for both fear, and excitement are the same, with the immediately emotional reaction producing the fight or flight reflex, the way we choose to react is the definition of the phrase. These bio-chemical changes in the brain make us either, aggressive, and fighting this new idea, or timid, thus fleeing from it. It is a primitive response, which is close to its original historical value, and although our systems have evolved to a more appropriate use of it, many of today’s modern life’s stresses still trigger this response. In the crucible of the moment will one choose the path of instinct, rather than intellect? An alternative response tied to these events, and often comes before fight or flight is freezing. This is often used by prey seeking not to be noticed by their predators. Freezing gives one time to assess the situation, and if necessary take further action, either fighting or backing away. This is an unwanted response when discussing fight or flight in a law enforcement setting. It could cause panic until the anticipation of fear is grater than the threat itself. The law enforcement officer must train, to harness these emotions, translate the challenge, and determine where the opportunity lies to facilitate the best possibly outcome for the event.

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