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Article
Publication date: 12 February 2018

Lois James, Stephen James and Bryan Vila

The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether citizen characteristics (race/ethnicity and attire) or demeanor predicted how officers interacted in simulation…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether citizen characteristics (race/ethnicity and attire) or demeanor predicted how officers interacted in simulation scenarios that could turn violent.

Design/methodology/approach

Controlled-laboratory experiments were conducted during which police participants (n=50) responded to equivalent numbers of black, white, and Hispanic individuals in multiple branching video scenarios in a use-of-force simulator. Within these scenarios, the attire of on-screen individuals was varied (“street” or “business” clothing) as was their demeanor – individuals were either friendly or confrontational. Each scenario had the potential to end peaceably or turn violent, depending on how the officers treated people in the simulator.

Findings

Multi-level modeling revealed that neither the race/ethnicity nor the attire of on-screen individuals predicted how officers interacted with them. However, the demeanor of on-screen individuals did – officers were significantly more likely to verbally escalate and end up with a deadly outcome when faced with confrontational individuals (f=3.96; df=1, 558; p<0.05).

Research limitations/implications

These findings offer important new insight into how fairly officers interact with people during routine encounters that have the potential to turn violent, and what this means for perceptions of police legitimacy, procedural justice, and allegations of racial bias.

Originality/value

This is the first laboratory study to test the impact of citizen characteristics and demeanor on how officers escalate and de-escalate encounters.

Details

Policing: An International Journal, vol. 41 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

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Article
Publication date: 15 May 2017

Lois James, Stephen James and Bryan Vila

Policing faces several critical problems, the most immediate of which are arguably public perceptions of racial bias, and widely prevalent officer fatigue related to shift…

Abstract

Purpose

Policing faces several critical problems, the most immediate of which are arguably public perceptions of racial bias, and widely prevalent officer fatigue related to shift work and long work hours. The purpose of this paper is to determine whether the “reverse racism effect” still occurred when officers were extremely fatigued.

Design/methodology/approach

Controlled laboratory experiments were conducted during which experienced police patrol officers responded to black and white suspects in deadly force judgment and decision-making simulations on two occasions; once immediately following the last of five consecutive 10:40 hours patrol shifts (fatigued condition) and again 72 hours after completing the last shift in a cycle (rested condition).

Findings

Contrary to expectations, the authors found that officer fatigue did not significantly affect shooting behavior. Furthermore, the authors did not find a significant interaction between officer fatigue and suspect race on either reaction time to shoot or the likelihood of shooting an unarmed suspect. Thus, the reverse racism effect was observed both when officers were rested and fatigued.

Research limitations/implications

As policing agencies around the country respond to allegations of racial bias, both the public and police search for empirical evidence about whether negative perceptions are accurate about officers’ motivations in deadly encounters. The research reported here provides insight about how fatigue effects officers’ decisions to shoot black vs white suspects, and directly addresses this high profile and divisive national issue.

Originality/value

This is the first valid experimental test of the impact of fatigue on officer shooting behavior, and the interaction between police fatigue and suspect race on decisions to shoot.

Details

Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, vol. 40 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

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Article
Publication date: 25 February 2021

Samantha M. Riedy, Desta Fekedulegn, Bryan Vila, Michael Andrew and John M. Violanti

To characterize changes in work hours across a career in law enforcement.

Abstract

Purpose

To characterize changes in work hours across a career in law enforcement.

Design/methodology/approach

N = 113 police officers enrolled in the BCOPS cohort were studied. The police officers started their careers in law enforcement between 1994 and 2001 at a mid-sized, unionized police department in northwestern New York and continued to work at this police department for at least 15 years. Day-by-day work history records were obtained from the payroll department. Work hours, leave hours and other pay types were summarized for each calendar year across their first 15 years of employment. Linear mixed-effects models with a random intercept over subject were used to determine if there were significant changes in pay types over time.

Findings

A total of 1,617 individual-years of data were analyzed. As the police officers gained seniority at the department, they worked fewer hours and fewer night shifts. Total paid hours did not significantly change due to seniority-based increases in vacation time. Night shift work was increasingly in the form of overtime as officers gained seniority. Overtime was more prevalent at the beginning of a career and after a promotion from police officer to detective.

Originality/value

Shiftwork and long work hours have negative effects on sleep and increase the likelihood of on-duty fatigue and performance impairment. The results suggest that there are different points within a career in law enforcement where issues surrounding shiftwork and long work hours may be more prevalent. This has important implications for predicting fatigue, developing effective countermeasures and measuring fatigue-related costs.

Details

Policing: An International Journal, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

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Article
Publication date: 28 April 2020

Samantha Riedy, Drew Dawson, Desta Fekedulegn, Michael Andrew, Bryan Vila and John M. Violanti

The purpose of this paper is to assess whether shift work, sleep loss and fatigue are related to short-term unplanned absences in policing.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to assess whether shift work, sleep loss and fatigue are related to short-term unplanned absences in policing.

Design/methodology/approach

N = 367 police officers from the Buffalo Police Department were studied. Day-by-day work and sick leave data were obtained from the payroll. Absenteeism was defined as taking a single sick day on a regularly scheduled workday. Biomathematical models of fatigue (BMMF) predicted officers' sleep–wake behaviors and on-duty fatigue and sleepiness. Prior sleep, fatigue and sleepiness were tested as predictors of absenteeism during the next shift.

Findings

A total of 513,666 shifts and 4,868 cases of absenteeism were studied. The odds of absenteeism increased as on-duty fatigue and sleepiness increased and prior sleep decreased. This was particularly evident for swing shift officers and night shift officers who were predicted by BMMF to obtain less sleep and have greater fatigue and sleepiness than day shift officers. The odds of absenteeism were higher for female officers than male officers; this finding was not due to a differential response to sleep loss, fatigue or sleepiness.

Practical implications

Absenteeism may represent a self-management strategy for fatigue or compensatory behavior to reduced sleep opportunity. Long and irregular work hours that reduce sleep opportunity may be administratively controllable culprits of absenteeism.

Originality/value

Police fatigue has consequences for police officers, departments and communities. BMMF provide a potential tool for predicting and mitigating police fatigue. BMMF were used to investigate the effects of sleep and fatigue on absenteeism.

Details

Policing: An International Journal, vol. 43 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

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Article
Publication date: 9 April 2018

Bryan Vila, Stephen James and Lois James

The purpose of this paper is to develop and describe the implementation of a novel method for creating interval-level metrics for objectively assessing police officer…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to develop and describe the implementation of a novel method for creating interval-level metrics for objectively assessing police officer behaviors during an encounter with the public. These behaviors constitute officer performance and affect the probability of desirable encounter outcomes. The metrics measure concrete, micro-level performance in the common types of complex, dynamic, and low-information police-public encounters that often require immediate action using “naturalistic” decision making. Difficulty metrics also were developed to control for situational variability. The utility of measuring what officers do vs probabilistic outcomes is explored with regard to informing policymaking, field practice, and training.

Design/methodology/approach

Metric sets were developed separately for three types of police-public encounters: deadly force judgment and decision making, cross-cultural tactical social interaction, and crisis intervention. In each, “reverse concept mapping” was used with a different diverse focus group of “true experts” to authoritatively deconstruct implicit concepts and derive important variables. Variables then were scaled with Thurstone’s method using 198 diverse expert trainers to create interval-level metrics for performance and situational difficulty. Metric utility was explored during two experimental laboratory studies and in response to a problematic police encounter.

Findings

Objective, interval-level metric sets were developed for measuring micro-level police performance and encounter difficulty. Validation and further refinement are required.

Research limitations/implications

This novel method provides a practical way to rapidly develop metrics that measure micro-level performance during police-public encounters much more precisely than was previously possible.

Originality/value

The metrics developed provide a foundation for measuring officers’ performance as they exercise discretion, engage people, and affect perceptions of police legitimacy.

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Article
Publication date: 5 June 2007

Luenda E. Charles, Cecil M. Burchfiel, Desta Fekedulegn, Bryan Vila, Tara A. Hartley, James Slaven, Anna Mnatsakanova and John M. Violanti

Working on the night shift is a potential source of occupational stress and has been associated with sleep disorders. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the…

Abstract

Purpose

Working on the night shift is a potential source of occupational stress and has been associated with sleep disorders. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the association between shift work and sleep problems among police officers from Buffalo, New York.

Design/methodology/approach

Randomly selected officers (n=111) responded to questions on sleep quality and quantity. Shift work data were obtained from daily payroll records from 1994 to the exam date (1999‐2000). Prevalence ratios (PR) were obtained using Poisson regression models that examined associations of shift work with sleep quality and quantity.

Findings

Among police officers, night shift work was significantly and independently associated with snoring and decreased sleep duration.

Originality/value

Although the sleep questions were similar to those used in validated sleep questionnaires, a major strength of this study was the availability of daily work history data on all officers for up to five years prior to the current examination.

Details

Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, vol. 30 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

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Article
Publication date: 17 August 2015

Stephen M. James and Bryan Vila

Fatigue associated with shift work is a well-established and pervasive problem in policing that affects officer performance, safety, and health. It is critical to…

Abstract

Purpose

Fatigue associated with shift work is a well-established and pervasive problem in policing that affects officer performance, safety, and health. It is critical to understand the extent to which fatigue degrades officer driving performance. Drowsy driving among post-shift workers is a well-established risk factor yet no data are available about officer injuries and deaths due to drowsy driving. The purpose of this paper is to assess the impact of fatigue associated with work shift and prior sleep on officers’ non-operational driving using laboratory experiments to assess post-shift drowsy driving risks and the ability of a well-validated vigilance and reaction-time task to assess these risks.

Design/methodology/approach

Experienced police patrol officer volunteers (n=78) from all four shifts of a medium-sized city’s police department were tested using a within- and between-subjects design to assess the impact of fatigue on individual officers, as well as the impact of different work shifts, on post-shift driving performance. Controlled laboratory experiments were conducted during which participants drove high-fidelity driving training simulators on two occasions: immediately following five consecutive 10:40-hour patrol shifts (fatigued condition) and again 72 hours after completing the last shift in a work cycle (rested condition).

Findings

Generalized linear mixed-model analyses of driving performance showed that officers working night shifts had significantly greater lane deviation during post-shift, non-operational driving than those working day shifts (F=4.40, df=1, 150, p=0.038). The same method also showed that easy to measure psychomotor vigilance test scores for reaction time predicted both lane deviation (F=31.48, df=1, 151, p < 0.001) and collisions (F=14.10, df=1, 151, p < 0.001) during the simulated drives.

Research limitations/implications

Simulated driving tasks done by participants were generally less challenging than patrol or off-duty driving and likely underestimate the impact of fatigue on police driving post-shift or during extended shifts.

Originality/value

This is the first experimental research to assess the impact of shiftwork, fatigue, and extended shifts on police post-shift drowsy driving, a known risk factor for shift workers in general.

Details

Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, vol. 38 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 1996

Bryan Vila

Conducts a pilot study on excessive fatigue in patrol officers of high crime rate areas, using data collected by 53 telephone esquires. Compares police overtime to that…

Abstract

Conducts a pilot study on excessive fatigue in patrol officers of high crime rate areas, using data collected by 53 telephone esquires. Compares police overtime to that considered acceptable in other professions where public safety is implicated and finds that police receive unfavorable treatment. Considers the vulnerability of police to the effects of fatigue and the potential costs of fatigue on cognitive performance, misconduct, health and safety. Remarks that police are culturally constrained to accept fatigue; that managers depend on overtime to cope with fluctuating demands and to operate within economic limits; that police are obliged to spend lengthy hours in court; that officers can become dependent on overtime pay. Suggests inter alia that community policing will help in avoiding “exhausted crusaders”. Advocates use of self‐regulation, peer monitoring and health care, use of improved technology, modifying work schedules, limiting exposure to high crime and considering reforms to civil liability.

Details

American Journal of Police, vol. 15 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0735-8547

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Article
Publication date: 5 June 2007

Luenda E. Charles, Cecil M. Burchfiel, Desta Fekedulegn, Michael E. Andrew, John M. Violanti and Bryan Vila

This study aims to look at the prevalence of obesity and its association with sleep problems among police officers.

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to look at the prevalence of obesity and its association with sleep problems among police officers.

Design/methodology/value

The authors conducted a cross‐sectional study of the relationship between obesity and sleep disorders among 110 randomly selected police officers from the Buffalo, New York, Police Department in 1999. Participants, who ranged in age from 26 to 61 years (mean±SD=39.5±7.5), responded to sleep related questions and had anthropometric measurements taken.

Findings

Results show that several measures of obesity were significantly associated with sleep‐disordered breathing in police officers, but not with other sleep problems.

Originality/value

A major strength of the study was that it was conducted in a cooperative and motivated study population. It was possible to assess a wide range of anthropometric measurements, including many that are important but are rarely used to measure obesity in epidemiologic studies such as abdominal height, neck circumference, and neck‐to‐height ratio. In addition, the assessment of the anthropometric indices was performed by trained clinic staff using standardized procedures.

Details

Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, vol. 30 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 1 September 1998

Gregory B. Morrison and Bryan J. Vila

American police trace their initial brush with handgun training to efforts taken by New York City in 1895. Developing proficiency did not become a widely held priority…

Abstract

American police trace their initial brush with handgun training to efforts taken by New York City in 1895. Developing proficiency did not become a widely held priority until beginning in the mid‐1920s when the reform era’s focus upon training understandably led them to desire being not just trained, but “qualified” with their handguns. Qualification is a military‐derived status introduced in large part by the National Rifle Association’s police firearms training programme between the two World Wars. Today, as then, formal qualification expectations imply that officers exceeding various minimum performance levels are competent to employ handguns during armed confrontations. An examination of police field marksmanship in armed confrontations ‐ within the context of firearms training developments, the nature of and role played by “qualification”, and the basis for threshold scores ‐ suggests otherwise.

Details

Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, vol. 21 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

Keywords

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