Shaping and monitoring the behavior of street‐level officers has continued to be a difficult task for police managers, and this task may prove to be more difficult as modern departments increasingly rely on proactive law enforcement for the delivery of police services. A popular method to shape police behavior is holding officers, departments and municipalities civilly liable for street‐level behavior. While it may be assumed fear of civil litigation influences the manner in which the police interact with the public, there is little empirical evidence for this claim; in fact, the frequent use of civil liability claims is poised to have an unanticipated side effect on contemporary policing. Officers may engage in fewer proactive law enforcement activities as a way to insulate them from litigation. This study examines whether experience with and attitudes toward civil liability influence the behavior of police officers, with particular attention on officer propensity to make arrests, use force, conduct searches and initiate encounters with suspects. Multivariate results indicate attitudes toward civil liability are weak and inconsistent predictors of behavior.
Novak, K., Smith, B. and Frank, J. (2003), "Strange bedfellows: civil liability and aggressive policing", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 26 No. 2, pp. 352-368. https://doi.org/10.1108/13639510310475813Download as .RIS
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