Use of Force

The Oakland Police Department takes the issue of uses of force seriously and has employed several strategies to reduce the use of force.

Posted: August 31st, 2018 3:44 PM

Last Updated: June 16th, 2022 2:46 PM

Use of Force

The Oakland Police Department uses a broader definition for use of force than many other police agencies. For example, while other police agencies may not define the act of pointing a firearm as a use of force, the Oakland Police Department does.

As a result of OPD's broad definition of use of force, the City of Oakland's numbers may appear higher than other police agencies. Useful comparisons will account for variations in the definitions used and data collected. The Department evaluates any state-sanctioned use of force in four levels:

Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

Level 4


How We Define Use of Force

Basic Definitions

  • Use of Force - Any physical or mechanical intervention used by a member or employee to defend, control, overpower, restrain or overcome the resistance of an individual.
  • Reasonable Force - That amount of force that is objectively reasonable to affect a lawful police purpose and protect the safety of members or others based upon the totality of the circumstances.
  • Lethal Force - Any force that creates a substantial risk of causing death or serious bodily injury.
  • Less-Lethal Force - Any use of force, other than lethal force, which by design and application is less likely to cause serious bodily injury or death.
  • Officer-Involved Shooting - Any non-accidental discharge of a firearm by an officer outside of training.


Use of Force
Reporting and Investigating Use of Force
Force Review and Executive Force Review Boards