Critics counter that the wording of the Criminal Code places too much emphasis on violent strategies to resolve conflicts instead of emphasizing methods and approaches leading to non-violent solutions (Stansfield 110-111). They also argue that provincial governments have the legislative power to place further restrictions on the use of force by the police through provincial Police Acts but most jurisdictions are reluctant to exercise such forms of increased control (Ian Jeffrey Ross 240).

The first major studies in Canada on the police use of force were published in 1985 by the Centre of Criminology at the University of Toronto (Chappell and Graham) and the Solicitor General of Canada (Savage and Ault). In 1988 a Royal Commission in British Columbia reported on injuries sustained by a prisoner in the cells of the Vancouver City Police (British Columbia. Royal Commission). During the next two years, the B.C. Police Commission circulated a discussion paper on the use of deadly force (Discussion Paper) followed by a series of recommendations (Recommendations of the Committee 1990); the Calgary Police Commission released its report on firearm practices (Calgary Police Commission Firearms Review); and the RCMP Public Complaints Commission completed a literature review on the use of force (Police Use of Less-Than-Lethal). These reports were followed by two studies in 1992 by the Toronto Police Services Board (Enhancing Community Trust) and the Solicitor General Canada (Less Than Lethal Force).

In 1993-1994 the Policing in British Columbia Commission of Inquiry produced five studies that referred to the use of neck restraints and impact weapons as well as the legal and community implications of using force (British Columbia. Closing the Gap). These studies were supplemented by proposed guidelines for municipal police officers (Justice Institute of British Columbia). Phillip Stenning's paper narrowed the subject by focusing on the use of force against visible minorities (Stenning Police...Violence Against Members). Ronald Stansfield summarized developments with respect to the use of force in his book, Issues in Policing; A Canadian Perspective.

Another aspect of the excessive use of force issue arose in the mid-1990s with preliminary research data on what is now termed "police-assisted suicide" or "suicide by cop." Richard Parent, a B.C. police officer completing a master's degree at Simon Fraser University, initially examined fifty-eight shootings between 1980 and 1994 involving B.C. police officers. Of twenty-eight people killed by the police, Parent determined that half were victim-precipitated homicides: that is, victims were consciously and determinedly committing suicide by getting shot by the police. Based on Parent's research and U.S. data, one in ten shootings were believed to be deliberate on the part of the victim (Parent, Beaudin, Mills, "Veteran Officer"). For his doctoral thesis, Parent enlarged his sample to include 400 shootings that occurred in Canada and 400 from the U.S. between 1980 and 2002. He has amended his conclusions, now stating that at least one-third of police shootings in North America are precipitated by the victim (Meadahl). The Suicide Information & Education Centre in Calgary, Alberta, provides a useful short bibliography on this subject (Suicide). What happens to officers who kill someone during their line of duty? This is addressed in Grant Foster's paper presented at the 1996 Canadian Learned Societies Congress. He contends that many of these officers become "stigmatized" as a result of discharging their firearms (Foster).