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Criminal Justice & Sociology (Penn State Berks)

Welcome to the library guide for criminal justice and sociology students at Penn State Berks!

Police Use of Force

a female and male police officer looking at a mobile device that the female officer is holdingWelcome!  This page provides a list of resources specifically for your 360-Degree Video Project.  I salute you for doing this project.  The videos you create will give you practical knowledge of the use of force and also help many future students.

The resources below can help us create videos by answering these questions:

  • Where can we find background info about our use-of-force issues?
  • How do we know what the legal authority of police is when using force?  What are police allowed to do?
  • What are some concrete examples of legal and illegal police use of force that can help us develop situations to act out in our videos?

Please cite any resource that gives you inspiration or ideas for your video.  An APA guide is listed on the left sidebar.

If you run across other sources that would be helpful to your fellow students, please let me know and I'll add them to this page.

Good luck and please remember to stop by my office or email me ( anytime you need help finding sources!

Best Wishes,

Brett Spencer

Criminal Justice Librarian

Penn State Berks

Resources for the 360-Degree Video Project

an open book   Reference Sources

References sources like dictionaries and encyclopedia provide definitions and background info.  Scan through these to get a summary of your topic as you begin your research.

a gavel    Laws

Everyone will want to look at the primary sources--the laws--when studying use of force situations.  The laws define police authority in use-of-force situations.  Important Note: Please note that different jurisdictions have different laws.  Most of the specific laws below deal with municipal police in PA.  If your video portrays other police forces (State Police, FBI, ATF, etc.), you will want to search Nexis Uni, Westlaw, and the web for laws specific to those police forces.

icon of police officer head, with cap, badge, and sunglasses   Police Training & Policy Resources

These resources are especially useful for creating our videos because they offer guidelines, handbooks, graphics, templates, videos, and scenarios used to train police in the legal use of force.

graduation cap  Scholarly Journal Articles

What are the best practices in police use of force?  Which techniques work best? Scholarly journal articles--intensive, critical studies conducted by faculty at universities--can help us answer these questions.  We can act out examples of effective, legal use of forces in our videos.  The Discussion and Conclusion sections usually have the main ideas.

computer monitor with the word "news" on the screen.   Popular News

The news media can give us recent examples of police use of force.  Important Note: some articles are based on breaking news, allegations, and rumors, so please investigate the facts about a use-of-force incident thoroughly and critically in multiple sources.