The Supreme Court held in Graham v. Connor (1989) that whether departments are liable in civil "use of force" lawsuits depends on the objective reasonableness of the officer's actions given the particular facts and circumstances of the incident. Objective reasonableness is judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer at the scene by analyzing various factors, including the severity of the underlying crime, whether the suspect posed an immediate threat to anyone's safety, and whether the suspect actively resisted arrest or attempted to flee. The Court recognized that it should not rely on the benefit of hindsight, stating that any determination of reasonableness must consider that law enforcement involves split-second decisions in tense and rapidly-evolving circumstances. To help judges and juries understand the officer's mindset, it becomes critically important to have records of what those circumstances were. Thus, whether your assessment of a suspect's threat level is based on their physique, a bulge in their coat pocket, known history, or something else, you should document it thoroughly in your report. Like all other records, the legal defensibility of that report at trial will be tied to the rules of evidence, including how your department typically records use-of-force incidents, how quickly the records were created, and how securely they have been maintained.