Police Quarterly

Sage Publications, Inc.
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Latest documents

  • A Longitudinal Study of the Effects of Academy Socialization on Police Integrity

    The objective of this study was to examine changes in American recruits’ perceptions of the seriousness of behaviors related to police integrity from the beginning to the end of their academy training. Using a sample of 655 recruits from multiple academies in the United States, multilevel growth models were used. The results showed that the recruits rated scales related to misconduct, code of silence, and a noble cause less seriously at the end than at the beginning of their training. The results also showed that ethics training mitigated the effects of socialization, while organizational injustice intensified the effects of socialization. Female recruits rated the behaviors more seriously at the beginning and the end of training compared to male recruits. The results confirm the role of the academy in socializing officers into the negative aspects of the traditional police culture and highlight important avenues for police reform.

  • Police Officer Use of Force Mindset and Street-Level Behavior

    Police use of force has been the focus of a number of external assessments of the occupation for over 50 years. Recent concerns have, once again, prompted calls for additional research on the correlates of this behavior, especially as it relates to officer use of force mindset. Relying on a framework articulated as part of a use of force symposium of academics and practitioners, the current study utilizes survey and behavioral data from officers in six police agencies to examine dimensions of use of force mindset among officers, and the degree to which attitudinal mindset influences use of force behavior. The implications for police scholarship and practice are discussed.

  • “They Need More Training!” A National Level Analysis of Police Academy Basic Training Priorities

    Recurring incidents of Black citizens killed or injured during interactions with police has led to calls for “more training” of officers, including new recruits. Prior research on academy-based police recruit training has centered on evaluation and heavily relied on case studies. The current study overcomes these limitations by analyzing the structure and content of academy-based basic training using secondary data collected from the population (N = 591) of U.S. police academies. Although we found significant mean differences across academies in total required contact hours needed to graduate and with how the hours were distributed across training areas, we also found academies adopted the same core curriculum consisting of six major “themes” and topics (n = 39) comprising them. We also found academies prioritized core areas of training in certain areas, while requiring far fewer hours in others. Implications of our results for basic training of recruits and suggestions for future research are then presented.

  • Is There a Civilizing Effect on Citizens? Testing the Pre-Conditions for Body Worn Camera-Induced Behavior Change

    The cause(s) of reduced use of force and complaints following police body-worn camera (BWC) deployment remain unclear, though some argue that BWCs generate a civilizing effect on citizen behavior. This potential effect rests on four pre-conditions: (1) BWC presence and citizen awareness; (2) BWC activation; (3) Escalated citizen behavior or the potential for escalation; (4) Citizen mental capacity for BWC awareness. Prior research has not established the civilizing effect’s existence, or how often these pre-conditions are met; this study aims to fill that gap. Data was collected during systematic social observation (SSO) of 166 encounters between citizens and officers in the Tempe, Arizona Police Department. The results tell a simple story. Two pre-conditions (activation, citizen mental capacity) are consistently met; awareness and escalated behavior are not. Overall, 1.2% of encounters saw all pre-conditions met. The paper concludes with a discussion of the implications for research on BWCs.

  • Who Is At-Risk? An Examination of the Likelihood and Time Variation in the Predictors of Repeated Police Misconduct

    Increasing transparency and accountability in policing is a top priority for police administrators, community groups, academics, and many others. The internal affairs process is an accountability tool designed to hold officers and agencies accountable to the citizens they serve, yet very little is known about the effect of internal investigative units on such outcomes as subsequent complaints and temporal distances between complaints. This current study examines two critical aspects of the internal affairs process, the likelihood of subsequent complaints and temporal distance between the first and a subsequent complaint of misconduct. Officers’ complaint data were collected from the internal affairs unit of a large, metropolitan police agency in the southwestern United States. Results indicate that a longer time to initial complaint and regional patrol assignment were related to a reduced likelihood of receiving future complaints. Moreover, of those officers who received a subsequent complaint after their initial complaint, more than half did so within the first year, and 94% did so within the first three years of receiving their initial complaint. Finally, we discuss the implications of our findings on policy and training opportunities, supervision, mentoring, accountability, and Early Intervention (EI) systems.

  • Women and Policing: An Assessment of Factors Related to the Likelihood of Pursuing a Career as a Police Officer

    Law enforcement is still considered a male dominated occupation resulting in the underrepresentation of women in sworn personnel positions. While it is critical for police departments to have a more representative police force, there is a lack of research on the factors that affect the likelihood of women entering policing. Past studies suggest that men and women have similar reasons for joining policing. However, research on the factors that deter potential candidates from pursuing this career path is limited. This paper examines factors that may affect the likelihood of women pursuing a career in policing. We rely on data collected from a sample of undergraduate students enrolled in criminal justice courses (n = 421). Our results show that, relative to men, women are less likely to be interested in pursuing a career as a police officer. However, more than half of the women in our sample reported interest in pursuing a career in policing. We find that for men and women, the likelihood for pursuing a career in policing was affected by a number of personal characteristics and the current socio-political climate. While a notable limitation of our study is its limited generalizability, overall, our findings offer some promise for the potential of representative policing.

  • Data-Informed and Place-Based Violent Crime Prevention: The Kansas City, Missouri Risk-Based Policing Initiative

    The Kansas City, Missouri Police Department sought to reduce violent crime with an evidence-based approach to problem analysis and intervention planning. Informed by hot spot analysis and risk terrain modeling, police and their community partners implemented a place-based crime intervention program focused on key attractors and generators of the environmental backcloth. Target and comparison areas were selected for an outcome evaluation. During the 1-year program time period, violent crimes decreased significantly by over 22%. There was both a significant spatial diffusion of benefits and significantly fewer police officer-initiated actions resulting in arrests or citations. Crime prevention was achieved without an abundance of law enforcement actions against people located at the target areas. Implications for policy and practice are discussed within the contexts of police responses to urgent crime problems and data analytics.

  • Police Officer Stress and Coping in a Stress-Awareness Era

    This study was conducted as controversy and turmoil engulfed police worldwide. Police-community conflict was widespread and conceivably increased officers’ stress levels. Because stress affects officers’ health and job performance, it is important to understand the phenomenon. This study was designed to ascertain officers’ stress levels, coping mechanisms, and perspectives regarding police-community relations, their perceived stress-related needs, and their perceptions of departmental assistance. Participants (N = 128) were police officers across several jurisdictions of various sizes in the northeastern United States. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected; analytic methods included statistical correlations and regression, as well as qualitative, thematic analysis. Results indicated the following: Participants experienced stress across multiple areas; some coping mechanisms predicted higher expressions of stress, as did certain perspectives of police-community relations and years in law enforcement. Participants’ perspectives of their needs and their suggestions for action contributed to data-driven policy recommendations regarding both prevention and symptom reduction approaches.

  • Police Use of Force and Injury: Multilevel Predictors of Physical Harm to Subjects and Officers

    The police must on occasion use physical force and weapons in order to apprehend and control subjects and fulfil the police function. It is inevitable that some of these interactions will result in injuries to both subjects and officers, with a range of both tangible and intangible harms and costs. It is therefore important to study injuries related to the use of force with an eye toward identifying opportunities to minimize injury and reduce the harms and costs. Injuries to both subjects and officers were examined in a sample of more than 10,000 use of force incidents drawn from 81 agencies located in 8 states. In addition to describing injury rates across a broad spectrum of situational and agency characteristics, we present multilevel logistic regression models predicting subject and officer injury. Among key findings, we report that the likelihood of injury for both subjects and officers is lower when force incidents end quickly and with the minimal necessary superior level of force relative to subject resistance, and higher for both subjects and officers when subjects flee. At the agency level, we find that the likelihood of injury varies by agency size and type. Finally, we explored possible higher-level variation and found that agencies in the sample from Midwestern states (primarily Wisconsin) have substantially lower injury rates that appear to be associated with their less frequent use of weapons and greater reliance on low-level physical force tactics, as compared to agencies in the sample from Western and other states.

  • Calibrating Police Activity Across Hot Spot and Non-Hot Spot Areas

    Maximizing crime prevention through large-scale implementation of hot spot policing requires a more refined understanding of how to calibrate police activity across high and low-risk areas. This study investigates these issues based on the experience of a large urban police agency that substantially reduced proactive activities across a large area due to resource cutbacks while also shifting a larger share of its declining proactive work into prioritized micro hot spots. Time series models were used to estimate the effects of these changes on crime-related calls in hot spots and non-hot spot areas. Hot spots required higher levels of proactivity (expressed as rates per day or per crime) to control crime, and serious crime rose in these locations following modest reductions in proactivity. In areas outside hot spots, minor and property crimes rose, but only after reductions of one-half to two-thirds in proactive work. Violence was unaffected in these areas, and they did not experience accelerated growth in crime relative to prioritized hot spots. These results help to illuminate minimum levels of police activity that may be necessary to control crime in places of varying risk. They also suggest that police can reduce proactive work by substantial amounts in lower risk areas to place more emphasis on hot spots. Better understanding of these issues is central to widespread, systematic operationalization of hot spot policing as a means to reduce crime across large areas.

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