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Law enforcement officers ' risk perceptions toward on-duty motor-vehicle events

Hope M. Tiesman (Division of Safety Research – National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morgantown, WV, USA)
Rebecca J. Heick (MCPHS Online, MCPHS University, Boston, MA, USA)
Srinivas Konda (Division of Safety Research – National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morgantown, WV, USA)
Scott Hendricks (Division of Safety Research – National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morgantown, WV, USA)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Publication date: 17 August 2015

Abstract

Purpose

Motor-vehicle-related events (MVEs) are the leading cause of on-duty death for law enforcement officers, yet little is known about how officers view this significant job hazard. The purpose of this paper is to explore officers’ motor-vehicle risk perception and examine how prior on-duty MVEs and the death or injury of a fellow officer influences this perception.

Design/methodology/approach

A state-wide random sample of 136 law enforcement agencies was drawn using publically accessible databases, stratified on type and size of agency. In total, 60 agencies agreed to participate and a cross-sectional questionnaire was distributed to 1,466 officers. Using six-point Likert scales, composite scores for motor-vehicle and intentional violence risk perception were derived. A linear regression multivariable model was used to examine factors affecting motor-vehicle risk perception.

Findings

Motor-vehicle risk perception scores were significantly higher than intentional violence scores. A prior on-duty motor-vehicle crash, prior roadside incident, or knowledge of fellow officer’s injury or death from a MVE significantly increased motor-vehicle risk perception scores. After controlling for potential confounders though, only prior on-duty crashes and roadside incidents impacted motor-vehicle risk perception.

Research limitations/implications

The study comprised primarily small, rural agencies and generalizability may be limited. Also, although the data were collected anonymously, reporting and response biases may affect these findings.

Originality/value

This study involved a large and diverse cohort of officers and explored motor-vehicle risk perception. A better understanding of officers’ risk perceptions will assist in the development and implementation of occupational injury prevention programs, training, and policy.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

© This work was authored as part of the authors’ official duties as employees of the United States Government and therefore there is no copyright associated with the article.

This project was funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Citation

Tiesman, H.M., Heick, R.J., Konda, S. and Hendricks, S. (2015), "Law enforcement officers ' risk perceptions toward on-duty motor-vehicle events", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 38 No. 3, pp. 563-577. https://doi.org/10.1108/PIJPSM-03-2015-0028

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Company