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Article
Publication date: 7 June 2021

Timothy I.C. Cubitt and Philip Birch

There is a paucity of data available relating to the misconduct of police officers in larger policing agencies, typically resulting in case study approaches and limited…

Abstract

Purpose

There is a paucity of data available relating to the misconduct of police officers in larger policing agencies, typically resulting in case study approaches and limited insight into the factors associated with serious misconduct. This paper seeks to contribute to the emerging knowledge base on police misconduct through analysis of 28,429 complaints among 3,830 officers in the New York Police Department, between 2000 and 2019.

Design/methodology/approach

This study utilized a data set consisting of officer and complainant demographics, and officer complaint records. Machine learning analytics were employed, specifically random forest, to consider which variables were most associated with serious misconduct among officers that committed misconduct. Partial dependence plots were employed among variables identified as important to consider the points at which misconduct was most, and least likely to occur.

Findings

Prior instances of serious misconduct were particularly associated with further instances of serious misconduct, while remedial action did not appear to have an impact in preventing further misconduct. Inexperience, both in rank and age, was associated with misconduct. Specific prior complaints, such as minor use of force, did not appear to be particularly associated with instances of serious misconduct. The characteristics of the complainant held more importance than the characteristics of the officer.

Originality/value

The ability to analyze a data set of this size is unusual and important to progressing the knowledge area regarding police misconduct. This study contributes to the growing use of machine learning in understanding the police misconduct environment, and more accurately tailoring misconduct prevention policy and practice.

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: 3 November 2020

Kelly Amy Hine, Louise E. Porter and Janet Ransley

This paper explores the applicability of environmental theories to understanding patterns of police misconduct. In turn, it aims to offer a method for identifying…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper explores the applicability of environmental theories to understanding patterns of police misconduct. In turn, it aims to offer a method for identifying prevention techniques that can be practically applied by policing agencies.

Design/methodology/approach

The study empirically examined 84 substantiated matters of police misconduct in Queensland, Australia. The matters were content-analysed for elements of the first level of the crime triangle. These elements were then analysed to identify their relationships with the situational precipitators that initiated the misconduct; proactive misconduct and situational misconduct.

Findings

The two types of initiating misconduct had differing relationships with the crime triangle elements. Therefore, specific prevention techniques can be tailored by policing agencies to address and prevent each type of misconduct more successfully. The paper discusses these findings in terms of preventative measures according to the second preventative level of the crime triangle and situational crime prevention techniques.

Originality/value

This paper provides an alternative approach to understanding and preventing police misconduct by exploring the applicability of environmental theories. It finds that environmental theories offer a feasible approach for policing agencies to understand and tailor prevention of police misconduct in their jurisdictions.

Details

Policing: An International Journal, vol. 43 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

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Article
Publication date: 26 November 2020

Timothy Cubitt, Ken Wooden, Erin Kruger and Michael Kennedy

Misconduct and deviance amongst police officers are substantial issues in policing around the world. This study aims to propose a prediction model for serious police

Abstract

Purpose

Misconduct and deviance amongst police officers are substantial issues in policing around the world. This study aims to propose a prediction model for serious police misconduct by variation of the theory of planned behaviour.

Design/methodology/approach

Using two data sets, one quantitative and one qualitative, provided by an Australian policing agency, a random forest analysis and a qualitative content analysis was performed. Results were used to inform and extend the framework of the theory of planned behaviour. The traditional and extended theory of planned behaviour models were then tested for predictive utility.

Findings

Each model demonstrated noteworthy predictive power, however, the extended model performed particularly well. Prior instances of minor misconduct amongst officers appeared important in this rate of prediction, suggesting that remediation of problematic behaviour was a substantial issue amongst misconduct prone officers.

Practical implications

It is an important implication for policing agencies that prior misconduct was predictive of further misconduct. A robust complaint investigation and remediation process are pivotal to anticipating, remediating and limiting police misconduct, however, early intervention models should not be viewed as the panacea for police misconduct.

Originality/value

This research constitutes the first behavioural model for police misconduct produced in Australia. This research seeks to contribute to the field of behavioural prediction amongst deviant police officers, and offer an alternative methodology for understanding these behaviours.

Details

The Journal of Forensic Practice, vol. 22 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2050-8794

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Article
Publication date: 21 November 2016

Stephen A. Bishopp, John Worrall and Nicole Leeper Piquero

The purpose of this paper is to examine the utility of general strain theory in explaining the relationship between organizational stress and police deviance.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the utility of general strain theory in explaining the relationship between organizational stress and police deviance.

Design/methodology/approach

Data were collected from a non-random sample of 1,389 police officers in three large cities in Texas. The survey instrument used for this research was the Police Work Experience Survey. Results from regression analyses are presented.

Findings

Findings showed that the organization influenced police misconduct, but misconduct was dependent upon the specific type of strain encountered.

Research limitations/implications

Results show that instances of police deviance depend on the types of strains encountered. Additionally, anger plays a significant role when examining organizational strain. Police administrators should move to reduce organizational strains to reduce instances of police misconduct.

Originality/value

Currently, there is very little theoretical work in understanding police misconduct. And no studies have drawn linkages between organizational stressors and self-reported officer misconduct. At a time when police behavior is at the forefront of the social policy reform, the examination of potential correlates of police misconduct is the first step toward controlling it.

Details

Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, vol. 39 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

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Article
Publication date: 13 May 2014

Robert E. Worden, Christopher Harris and Sarah J. McLean

– The purpose of this paper is to critique contemporary tools for assessing and managing the risk of police misconduct and suggest directions for their improvement.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to critique contemporary tools for assessing and managing the risk of police misconduct and suggest directions for their improvement.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper draws on extant literature, synthesizing several lines of inquiry to summarize what the authors know about patterns of police misconduct, and what the authors know about assessing and managing police misconduct. Then the paper draws from the literature on offender risk assessment in criminal justice to draw lessons for assessing and managing the risk of police misconduct.

Findings

The authors found that there is good reason to believe that the tools used to assess the risk of misconduct make suboptimal predictions about officer performance because they rely on limited information of dubious value, but also that the predictive models on which the tools are based could be improved by better emulating procedures for assessing offenders’ risk of recidivism.

Research limitations/implications

Future research should examine cross-sectional and longitudinal patterns of misconduct and associations between risk-related outputs and enforcement activity, develop better measures of criterion variables, and evaluate the predictive accuracy of risk assessment tools.

Practical implications

Police managers should make better use of the information available to them, improve the quantity and quality of information if feasible, and cooperate in the necessary research.

Originality/value

This paper offers a new synthesis of extant research to demonstrate the limitations of contemporary provisions for assessing the risk of police misconduct, and potential avenues for useful research and improved practice.

Details

Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, vol. 37 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

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Article
Publication date: 18 June 2018

Jessica Huff, Michael D. White and Scott H. Decker

Many examinations of police misconduct involve case study methodologies applied to a single agency, or a handful of agencies. Consequently, there is little evidence…

Abstract

Purpose

Many examinations of police misconduct involve case study methodologies applied to a single agency, or a handful of agencies. Consequently, there is little evidence regarding the types of misconduct across agencies, or the impact of department-level characteristics on the nature and prevalence of officer deviance. The purpose of this paper is to address this research gap using statewide data of over 1,500 charges of police misconduct filed with the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board (AZPOST) from 2000 to 2011.

Design/methodology/approach

This study examines variation in the prevalence and forms of misconduct across 100+ agencies based on agency type and size. Difference scores were calculated for every agency in the state to determine whether an agency’s level of misconduct was proportionate to the number of officers employed by that agency. AZPOST data were supplemented with Law Enforcement Management and Statistics data to identify organizational correlates of misconduct in agencies generating disproportionately low and high levels of misconduct.

Findings

Results identify variation in officer misconduct across different types of agencies. Tribal agencies generally experience higher rates of domestic violence and drug/alcohol-related incidents. Smaller agencies have more misconduct allegations involving supervisors. Organizational characteristics including pre-hiring screening, accountability mechanisms and community relationships are associated with lower levels of agency misconduct.

Originality/value

The use of AZPOST data enables a statewide examination of misconduct while accounting for organizational context. This study identifies organizational features that might serve to protect agencies against disproportionate rates of officer misbehavior.

Details

Policing: An International Journal, vol. 41 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

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Article
Publication date: 16 May 2016

Christopher Donner, Jon Maskaly and Lorie Fridell

– The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between social control (adult social bonds) and police misconduct.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between social control (adult social bonds) and police misconduct.

Design/methodology/approach

Multiple regression methods are used to analyze survey data from a sample of 101 first-line police supervisors. A consequence-based measure is used to capture social bonds and workplace deviance is measured as the self-reported likelihood of future misconduct.

Findings

Police supervisors reported varying likelihoods of future workplace deviance across four acts of misconduct. Social control was found to be negatively related to three of the four acts, which provides general support for the theory and study hypothesis.

Practical implications

The results are discussed in terms of research and policy implications.

Originality/value

Acknowledging important gaps in the literature, this study explores the validity of social control theory for explaining police misconduct.

Details

Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, vol. 39 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

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Book part
Publication date: 3 December 2018

Jennifer Dirmeyer and Alexander Cartwright

Several recent incidents of highly publicized police misconduct in the United States have intensified interest in controlling police behavior. Administrative control of…

Abstract

Several recent incidents of highly publicized police misconduct in the United States have intensified interest in controlling police behavior. Administrative control of police use of force is difficult because police officers are often the primary and most credible witnesses to police misconduct, effectively giving them enforcement power over rules they are subject to; police cooperation as both rule followers and rule enforcers is necessary for effectively constraining police misconduct. The authors develop a framework for examining how organizational and institutional variables can affect individual decision making. Using this framework, the authors identify three avenues for reducing police misconduct – increasing the information generated by non-police sources, increasing the incentive for officers to cooperate with external enforcement efforts, and changing the expectations of officers regarding the attitudes and behaviors of their peers – and present a case study of Oakland California Police Department to illustrate the implications.

Details

Austrian Economics: The Next Generation
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78756-577-7

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Article
Publication date: 5 October 2010

Terry Lamboo

The purpose of this paper is to report the findings of an analysis of official data on police misconduct, providing new insights into the nature and extent of police

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to report the findings of an analysis of official data on police misconduct, providing new insights into the nature and extent of police misconduct and in the official response to police misconduct. Next to the use of force and neglect of duty, private time misconduct is a major type of (alleged) misconduct although it is often discarded from theoretical conceptions of police misconduct. The analysis also showed that two‐thirds of internal investigations are the result of an internal report. This paper shows that official data on police misconduct can result in new insights in the nature and extent of police misconduct and is therefore a relevant source for academic analysis.

Design/methodology/approach

An analysis of official data on police misconduct is compared with theoretical notions of police misconduct, internal investigations and reliability of official data.

Findings

The implementation of a uniform Registration of Internal Investigations for all Dutch police forces has resulted in a clear increase in the number of registered investigations. This seems to be due to a combination of increased strictness on (alleged) misconduct and an improved quality of the registration. The analysis also showed that two‐thirds of the investigations are the result of an internal report. This places a new perspective on the so‐called code of silence among police officers. However, information on the extent and nature of complaints that are dealt with through the complaints procedure is lacking. The complaints procedure has also no formal relation with the disciplinary or criminal procedures.

Research limitations/implications

Official data on police misconduct have to be viewed with a critical eye. The analyses showed however that the Dutch data seem fairly reliable. Additional research should place the official data in further perspective, e.g. through case studies and through a control of the registration with the files of the Bureaux of Internal Investigations. Finally, a comparison with official data in other countries is needed.

Practical implications

The Dutch police should improve its complaints procedures and the complaints registration.

Originality/value

Academic analysis of police misconduct is often limited to case studies of scandals or focuses on citizen complaints. The paper gives a broader perspective by using official data.

Details

International Journal of Public Sector Management, vol. 23 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3558

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Article
Publication date: 30 April 2018

Timothy I.C. Cubitt and Samantha J.H. Judges

The purpose of this paper is to detect and examine any trends in the self-reported causation of misconduct among officers being considered for dismissal.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to detect and examine any trends in the self-reported causation of misconduct among officers being considered for dismissal.

Design/methodology/approach

The data utilised in this study consisted of show cause notice (SCN) responses. In the process of being considered for dismissal, officers’ may offer the causes of or mitigating factors to their misconduct as a means of avoiding dismissal. This study utilised these responses as a data source. Data collection occurred between January 2013 and October 2016, resulting in a cohort of n=100 responses comprised of between 1 and ~1,000 pages of free text. Qualitative methods were preferred, a conventional content analysis was performed with coding categories derived from SCN response text.

Findings

The results of this study indicate noteworthy levels of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and related mental health issues amongst this cohort, as well as pervasive financial and workplace stressors, which officers frequently link to the causation of their misconduct. Of particular note is the consistent co-occurrence of work-related stressors and health issues, most commonly through formally diagnosed PTSD.

Research limitations/implications

This study indicates an opportunity for support services to impact positively on mental health and stress, and subsequently misconduct among police officers.

Originality/value

There is still very little understanding of the causation of misconduct among police officers. This is the first time that this data have been utilised in any form of the research, it provides valuable insight into a potential alternative method of addressing misconduct to reactionary investigative action.

Details

Policing: An International Journal, vol. 41 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-951X

Keywords

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