Police use of deadly force: Research and reform
ABSTRACT Police use of deadly force first became a major public issue in the 1960s, when many urban riots were precipitated immediately by police killings of citizens. Since that time scholars have studied deadly force extensively, police practitioners have made significant reforms in their policies and practices regarding deadly force, and the United States Supreme Court has voided a centuries-old legal principle that authorized police in about one-half the states to use deadly force to apprehend unarmed, nonviolent, fleeing felony suspects. This essay reviews and interprets these developments.
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ABSTRACT: The less lethal coercive power granted to police officers is not without its restrictions. Such limitations are delineated per the United States Supreme Court, via Graham v. Connor, applying the broad standard of objective reasonableness. A far more salient operational guide to assessing what is objectively reasonable rests within departmental use-of-force policy, which like other police policies can vary widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. To date, comprehensive empirical inquiries regarding this jurisdictional variation is unknown. At best, extant research has noted that many agencies tend to instruct officers via a force continuum, although the nature (i.e., various designs, levels, and ordering of force tactics, and appropriate force relative to citizen resistance) of such policies are relatively unknown. Based on a multiwave national survey of policing agencies, the following study examines not only the extent to which departments utilize a use-of-force continuum within their less lethal force policy, but also the types of continuum designs used and the ways in which various force tactics and citizen resistance types are situated along a continuum. The results reveal that more than 80% of responding agencies utilize a use-of-force continuum, of which the linear design is the most popular. However, the placement of various force tactics and consideration of suspect resistance vary greatly across departments. In essence, there is no commonly accepted force continuum used by practitioners. The implications of these findings are considered.Police Quarterly 03/2013; 16(1):38-65. · 0.68 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The “veil-of-darkness” method is an innovative and low-cost approach that circumvents many of the benchmarking issues that arise in testing for racial profiling. Changes in natural lighting are used to establish a presumptively more race-neutral benchmark on the assumption that after dark, police suffer an impaired ability to detect motorists’ race. Applying the veil-of-darkness method to vehicle stops by the Syracuse (NY) police between 2006 and 2009 and examining differences among officers assigned to specialized traffic units and crime-suppression units, we found that African Americans were no more likely to be stopped during daylight than during darkness, indicating no racial bias.Police Quarterly 03/2012; 15(1):92-111. · 0.68 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Policing research has generally focused on easily measured outcome factors such as response time, force usage, and arrest. Empirical studies examining outcomes important to public legitimacy, such as police responsiveness, are less prevalent in the literature. Using observational and interview data from two medium sized cities (Indianapolis, Indiana, and St. Petersburg, Florida), the present inquiry examines how officers respond to noncoercive citizen requests for service during encounters, and the impact that situational and officer characteristics have on their willingness to comply with requests. Results indicate that officers comply with a majority of citizen requests, and even when they do not comply they often provide an explanation why. Encounters involving respectful citizens, wealthier citizens, White officers, and St. Petersburg officers were all more likely to result in compliance, while officers were less likely to comply with requests from younger and older citizens. Moreover, encounters involving White citizens, a greater number of citizen bystanders, and officers with a higher level of education all reduced the likelihood that officers would provide an explanation for denying citizen requests. Policy implications and recommendations for future research and theoretical development are discussed.Police Quarterly 03/2012; 15(1):3-24. · 0.68 Impact Factor