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Article
Publication date: 1 December 2002

Michael D. White

Prior research on the police decision to use deadly force has tended to neglect multivariate relationships, particularly at the situational level. This paper makes use of

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Abstract

Prior research on the police decision to use deadly force has tended to neglect multivariate relationships, particularly at the situational level. This paper makes use of data describing deadly force incidents in Philadelphia during two time periods (1970‐1978 and 1987‐1992) and employs multivariate analyses to identify situational predictors of police shootings involving gun‐assaultive suspects. Findings from the multivariate analyses are then used in a pilot effort to develop predictive risk classifications of deadly force incidents. Identification of predictors of deadly force is helpful not only in assessing the relative contributions of situational variables but also in shaping our understanding of the behavior of line officers who are forced, by the nature of their work, to make split‐second decisions involving life and liberty with minimal guidance and support from the police department.

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Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, vol. 25 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

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Article
Publication date: 1 September 1998

Joan Mars

This article explores the nature and extent of police power to use deadly force within the context of the meaning of the rule of law in a liberal democracy. It is argued…

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757

Abstract

This article explores the nature and extent of police power to use deadly force within the context of the meaning of the rule of law in a liberal democracy. It is argued that the rule of law requires the protection of the most fundamental of all human rights ‐ the right to life ‐ and that when the coercive powers of government are exercised arbitrarily and excessively then not only is there a violation of existing legal rules, but the rule of law itself is in jeopardy. The laws governing the use of deadly force by the Guyana Police Force are discussed and incidences of the use of fatal force are evaluated to determine whether Guyana’s Police Force is acting within the meaning of the rule of law. It is concluded that the evidence suggests the continuing failure to comply with the requirements of legality and public accountability under the rule of law.

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

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Article
Publication date: 1 September 1998

Richard B. Parent and Simon Verdun‐Jones

This study examines the underlying reasons for the police use of deadly force and potential deadly force, in the Province of British Columbia, Canada, during the period…

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1407

Abstract

This study examines the underlying reasons for the police use of deadly force and potential deadly force, in the Province of British Columbia, Canada, during the period 1980‐94. Within this context, interactional violence and the phenomenon of victim‐precipitated homicide are examined in relation to the police use of deadly force. This study analyzes 58 separate documented incidents in which municipal and Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers, within the Province of British Columbia, have been confronted by a potentially lethal threat. In 27 of these incidents, the police responded by discharging their firearms and killing a total of 28 people. The remaining 31 cases that were examined reflect incidents in which the police responded with less‐lethal force. Through the examination of police investigations, verdict‐at‐coroner’s‐inquest reports, BC Police Commission data and interviews with police officers, this study reveals that, in roughly half of the cases examined (N = 28), the police reacted to a potentially lethal threat of victim‐precipitated homicide. These are incidents in which despondent individuals suffering from suicidal tendencies, mental illness, or extreme substance abuse, acted in a calculated and deliberate manner so as to force the police to use potential or deadly force. The study recommends that police personnel within the Province of British Columbia should be given further alternatives to the standard‐issue firearm, when responding to potentially lethal threats. Non‐lethal tools of compliance should be made readily available to the operational police officer with a view to providing alternatives to the traditional use of deadly force. In addition, the training of police personnel should emphasize non‐violent strategies in dealing with irrational individuals who are suicidal, mentally disordered and/or intoxicated.

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

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Article
Publication date: 1 April 2006

Gregory B. Morrison

The purpose of this paper is to examine perceptions of police departments and instructors regarding academy‐based pre‐service firearm and deadly force training.

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1691

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine perceptions of police departments and instructors regarding academy‐based pre‐service firearm and deadly force training.

Design/methodology/approach

Surveys of department‐based instructors (n=175) and state and local police departments (n=116) in Washington State provided ratings and other data on pre‐service academy training and included department‐based training provided before and/or after attending the academy.

Findings

The paper found academy graduates' skills generally were rated as adequate. Ratings for tactics and decision making were lower, and many departments noted that these areas needed more attention. Some departments also provided extensive post‐academy training before allowing their new officers to work armed. Nevertheless, many departments used BLEA's handgun qualification course‐of‐fire for in‐service requalification and, in some cases, training.

Research limitations

The research setting was one state and the study focused on firearm and deadly force training.

Practical limitations/implications

The paper shows pre‐service firearm and deadly force training is crucial for officer and public safety at the outset of officers' employment. It also lays the foundation for department in‐service training. Because departments exercise considerable latitude over the content, techniques and instructional methods of their own programs, the nature and extent of academy training has implications for officers' skills and abilities in the long term, too.

Originality/value

This paper shows prior research has concentrated on the perceptions of academy graduates and the full spectrum job tasks associated with policing and/or taking their certification examinations. It provides detailed insights into a specific training job‐task area, as well as from important stakeholders such as departments and their instructors, not previously available.

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Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, vol. 29 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 1997

Tom McEwen

Analyzes policies from 96 law enforcement agencies on their use of less‐than‐lethal force. Includes a review of several topics: policy purpose, definitions of lethal and…

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2086

Abstract

Analyzes policies from 96 law enforcement agencies on their use of less‐than‐lethal force. Includes a review of several topics: policy purpose, definitions of lethal and less‐than‐lethal force, provisions for authorized and unauthorized weapons, training requirements, avoiding excessive force, medical aid and report requirements. Concludes that most policies are deficient in one or more topic areas. Provides recommendations on how to improve these policies.

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Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, vol. 20 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

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Article
Publication date: 1 December 2004

Brad W. Smith

The present study examined homicides by police officers, testing threat, community violence, and organizational hypotheses. Using UCR, SHR, Census, and LEMAS data the…

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1893

Abstract

The present study examined homicides by police officers, testing threat, community violence, and organizational hypotheses. Using UCR, SHR, Census, and LEMAS data the study extends previous research by examining the relative impact of community violence, inequality and race, and organizational characteristics on the number of killings of felons by police officers in large US cities. The findings show that measures of racial threat and community violence were related to police killings. Measures of organizational policies were largely unrelated to the number of police killings. Overall the study extends research in the area, yet it also points to a more general need for research on the effects of organizational factors on police violence.

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Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, vol. 27 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

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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: 1 March 1997

Richard C. Lumb and Paul C. Friday

Use of “less than lethal weapons” by police has generated extreme review and controversy in some highly publicized cases. Confronting hostility and aggressiveness, police

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1570

Abstract

Use of “less than lethal weapons” by police has generated extreme review and controversy in some highly publicized cases. Confronting hostility and aggressiveness, police officers cannot turn away and flee from a dangerous situation, forcing them to select the best available option for controlling the individual. Among the officers’ choice of responses, oleoresin capsicum (OC) pepper spray has proven to be extremely effective. However, this is not a risk‐free weapon, and due to a number of suspect deaths following its use, it has become controversial. Investigates if OC spray reduced the frequency and level of use of force, and if its availability affected the number of suspect and officer injuries.

Details

Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, vol. 20 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 1999

Conan Becknell, G. Larry Mays and Dennis M. Giever

Police officers frequently receive criticism for excessive use of force and, at times, the criticism becomes litigation. The use of excessive force is manifest in areas…

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3417

Abstract

Police officers frequently receive criticism for excessive use of force and, at times, the criticism becomes litigation. The use of excessive force is manifest in areas such as the unauthorized use of firearms and the videotaped and much publicized beating of motorist Rodney King. However, recently police scholars and practitioners have come to realize that the use of police vehicle pursuits also have the potential to become deadly force. This issue is appearing with increasing frequency and it has resulted in the case of Sacramento County et al. v. Lewis being appealed to and decided by the US Supreme Court. This article analyzes the consequences of police departments having more, or less, restrictive policies in regard to police vehicle pursuits. Different elements of policy restrictiveness also are examined.

Details

Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, vol. 22 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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