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NCJ Number: 75312 Find in a Library
Title: Police Use of Force - Individuals, Situations, and Organizations
Journal: Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science  Volume:452  Dated:(November 1980)  Pages:82-97
Author(s): R J Friedrich
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 16
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The results of the extensive body of research into why police use force have been based on insufficient and unscientifically gathered data, and have suffered from explanatory points of view that were too narrow in focus.
Abstract: Police use of force is theoretically important because it involves the execution of an essential function of the state, the legitimate use of force over civilians. It is practically important because it affects the public's attitudes and behaviors toward the police and government more generally. Because of its importance, much attention has been devoted to understanding how and why it varies. Three different types of explanations have been advance: those explaining the use of force in terms of individual characteristics of police officers, those explaining use of force in terms of characteristics of the situation in which police meet citizens, and those explaining use of force in terms of the organizaion in which police work. Most studies have not determined which factors have a genuine influence and how important the various factors are. An analysis of Albert J. Reiss' 1966 observational data on the use of force in three urban police departments (Boston, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.,), using cross tabulations and multiple regression analysis, finds individual and aggregate relationships so weak that theoretical and methodological reformulations seen imperative. The results suggest that many factors commonly thought to affect the use of force have little effect. Only the behavior of the offender and the visibility of the encounter to peers and the public emerge as significant influences on police use of force. Data tables and 27 footnotes are included. For related articles, see NCJ 75304. (Author abstract modified)
Index Term(s): Lawful use of force; Police legal limitations; Police weapons use
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