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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 193238 Find in a Library
Title: Improving Police Encounters with Juveniles: Does Training Make a Difference?
Journal: Justice Research and Policy  Volume:3  Issue:2  Dated:Fall 2001  Pages:57-77
Author(s): Denise C. Herz
Date Published: 2001
Page Count: 21
Type: Program Description (Model)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article reports the evaluation findings for a police training program designed to de-escalate juvenile aggression.
Abstract: National data indicate that police encounters with juveniles are more likely to be police initiated and more likely to result in police use of force than are encounters with members of other age groups. Other research indicates that juveniles have more negative attitudes toward the police than do adults. The De-Escalating Juvenile Aggression program was designed to teach officers: (1) developmental factors that define and contribute to juvenile aggressive behavior; (2) appropriate handling of aggressive juveniles (regardless of charge); and (3) the verbal skills necessary to de-escalate aggressive and potentially aggressive youth. Thirty-eight officers from three police departments in Sarpy County, Nebraska, participated in the training program. An outcome evaluation was conducted using a treatment group of trained officers and a comparison group of untrained officers. Both responded to a series of statements related to the curriculum of the program. Findings showed both short- and long-term effects for changes in officer attitudes toward handling aggressive juveniles at posttest and follow-up. Almost all of the trained officers who encountered aggressive juveniles utilized verbal techniques to de-escalate aggression and found them effective. These results support the notion that training provides an avenue for improving the nature of police encounters particularly when aggressive or potentially aggressive juveniles are involved. The use of these results ultimately rests upon the relationship between changes in officer attitudes and corresponding changes in behavior. Expanding the evaluation to include the observation of police behavior would play a critical role in resolving this issue as well as providing a more thorough assessment of training effectiveness. 9 tables, 36 references, 2 appendices
Main Term(s): Juvenile attitudes toward authority; Police juvenile relations
Index Term(s): Adolescent attitudes; Juvenile offender attitudes; Police attitudes toward delinquents; Police community relations; Police community relations programs; Police-citizen interactions
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