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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 204435 Find in a Library
Title: Suing Cops and Corrections Officers: Officer Attitudes and Experiences About Civil Liability
Journal: Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management  Volume:26  Issue:4  Dated:2003  Pages:529-547
Author(s): Daniel E. Hall; Lois A. Ventura; Yung H. Lee; Eric Lambert
Date Published: 2003
Page Count: 19
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study examined whether occupation, experience, rank, and education were significant factors in the frequency and nature of employment-related lawsuits filed against police and corrections officers, as well as whether these factors significantly affect these officers' fear of being sued ("litigaphobia").
Abstract: A survey questionnaire was distributed to all the sworn employees (deputies and corrections officers) of a county sheriff's office in a Southern State as well as all sworn officers of all but one of the municipalities of the same county. A total of 607 questionnaires were returned (62-percent response rate). Of these, 500 were completed by police officers, and 107 were completed by county jail corrections officers. The questionnaire contained statements to which officers recorded some degree of agreement or disagreement. Responses to all survey questions were examined for the effects of occupation, years of experience, education, and rank. The dependent variables of being sued or knowing others who have been sued were dichotomous measures. Logistic regression analysis was used. Overall, 23 percent of the respondents reported that they had been sued for a matter related to the performance of their duties. A total of 27 percent of the police officers and 6 percent of the corrections officers reported having been sued. Significant differences were also found by rank for both police and corrections officers. Of the police supervisors, 37 percent reported being sued compared with 22 percent of the line officers. A total of 24 percent of the corrections supervisors reported being sued compared with only 3 percent of the line corrections officers. There was an apparent positive relationship between experience in the profession and being sued. Of those who had been on the job for less than 2 years, 3 percent had been sued, and the number increased progressively to 37 percent of the most senior officers. There was also a positive relationship between level of education and being sued. A total of 17 percent of officers with a high school education were sued, 19 percent with a high school education and certificate, 24 percent of those with an associate degree, 30 percent of those with a bachelor degree, and 44 percent of those with a graduate degree had been sued. Statistical analysis found that only occupation and years of experience were significantly associated with having been sued. The study also found that the occupation of policing and number of years on the job were linked to litigaphobia. The findings indicated that a sizeable minority of officers believed that their fear of liability hindered their job performance. Future research should examine whether and how this is true. 7 tables and 34 references
Main Term(s): Police attitudes
Index Term(s): Civil liability; Correctional Officers; Correctional personnel attitudes; Lawsuits; Legal liability
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