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Understanding the Use of Force By and Against the Police in Six Jurisdictions in the United States, 1996-1997

Version
v0
Resource Type
Dataset : survey data
Creator
  • Garner, Joel H. (Joint Centers for Justice Studies, Inc.)
  • Maxwell, Christopher D. (Michigan State University, School of Criminal Justice)
Other Title
  • Archival Version (Subtitle)
Publication Date
2001-06-29
Funding Reference
  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice
Language
English
Free Keywords
arrest procedures; arrest records; assaults on police; law enforcement; police officers; police use of force
Description
  • Abstract

    This study examined the amount of force used by and against law enforcement officers and more than 50 characteristics of officers, civilians, and arrest situations associated with the use of different levels of force. An important component of this multijurisdiction project was to employ a common measurement of elements of force and predictors of force. Data were gathered about suspects' and police officers' behaviors from adult custody arrests in six urban law enforcement agencies. The participating agencies were the Charlotte-Mecklenburg (North Carolina) Police Department, Colorado Springs (Colorado) Police Department, Dallas (Texas) Police Department, St. Petersburg (Florida) Police Department, San Diego (California) Police Department, and San Diego County (California) Sheriff's Department. Data collection began at different times in the participating departments, so the total sample included arrests during the summer, fall, and winter of 1996-1997. Forms were completed and coded for 7,512 adult custody arrests (Part 1). This form was used to record officer self-reports on the characteristics of the arrest situation, the suspects, and the officers, and the specific behavioral acts of officers, suspects, and bystanders in a particular arrest. Similar items were asked of 1,156 suspects interviewed in local jails at the time they were booked following arrest to obtain an independent assessment of officer and suspect use of force (Part 2). Officers were informed that some suspects would be interviewed, but they did not know which would be interviewed or when. Using the items included on the police survey, the research team constructed four measures of force used by police officers -- physical force, physical force plus threats, continuum of force, and maximum force. Four comparable measures of force used by arrested suspects were also developed. These measures are included in the data for Part 1. Each measure was derived by combining specific actions by law enforcement officers or by suspects in various ways. The first measure was a traditional conceptual dichotomy of arrests in which physical force was or was not used. For both the police and for suspects, the definition of physical force included any arrest in which a weapon or weaponless tactic was used. In addition, police arrests in which officers used a severe restraint were included. The second measure, physical force plus threats, was similar to physical force but added the use of threats and displays of weapons. To address the potential limitations of these two dichotomous measures, two other measures were developed. The continuum-of-force measure captured the levels of force commonly used in official policies by the participating law enforcement agencies. To construct the fourth measure, maximum force, 503 experienced officers in five of the six jurisdictions ranked a variety of hypothetical types of force by officers and by suspects on a scale from 1 (least forceful) to 100 (most forceful). Officers were asked to rank these items based on their own personal experience, not official policy. These rankings of police and suspect use of force, which appear in Part 3, were averaged for each jurisdiction and used in Part 1 to weight the behaviors that occurred in the sampled arrests. Variables for Parts 1 and 2 include nature of the arrest, features of the arrest location, mobilization of the police, and officer and suspect characteristics. Part 3 provides officer rankings on 54 items that suspects might do or say during an arrest. Separately, officers ranked a series of 44 items that a police officer might do or say during an arrest. These items include spitting, shouting or cursing, hitting, wrestling, pushing, resisting, fleeing, commanding, using conversational voice, and using pressure point holds, as well as possession, display, threat of use, or use of several weapons (e.g., knife, chemical agent, dog, blunt object, handgun, motor vehicle).
  • Abstract

    Prior research has examined the relationship between variations in police behavior and variations in possible explanatory factors, such as demographic characteristics of police officers and citizens, situational factors of police-citizen encounters, and community characteristics. The research on the use of force has, in many instances, been limited to situations in which some type of force, usually deadly force, was used. The use of samples that do not represent all police behavior limits the ability to describe when force is used and when it is not used. To address this limitation, this research project employed systematic samples of adult custody arrests in order to provide a comparison of a complete set of police behaviors in circumstances when force was used with behaviors conducted in circumstances when force was not used. Further, the design of this research project -- systematic samples, multiple sources of information, and multivariate analysis -- was guided by the assessment that much of the prior research had confounded the measurement of force with definitions of what is and is not excessive force. In this project, the difficult task of defining and measuring excessive force was deferred and the researchers focused instead on the measurement of the amount of force, with the expectation that this information would inform issues surrounding the use of excessive force. Similarly, since no single measure is likely to capture well all the various understandings of the use of force, this research project used multiple measures of force in order to incorporate more precisely the various ways in which force is conceptualized by the police, the public, and researchers.
  • Abstract

    This study examined the amount of force used by and against law enforcement officers and more than 50 characteristics of officers, civilians, and arrest situations associated with the use of different levels of force. An important component of this multijurisdiction project was to employ a common measurement of elements of force and predictors of force. Data were gathered about suspects' and police officers' behaviors from adult custody arrests in six urban law enforcement agencies. The participating agencies were the Charlotte-Mecklenburg (North Carolina) Police Department, Colorado Springs (Colorado) Police Department, Dallas (Texas) Police Department, St. Petersburg (Florida) Police Department, San Diego (California) Police Department, and San Diego County (California) Sheriff's Department. Data collection began at different times in the participating departments, so the total sample included arrests during the summer, fall, and winter of 1996-1997. Initial data collection began in the Colorado Springs Police Department in mid-August 1996, and data collection was completed in Charlotte-Mecklenburg in the second week of February 1997. One-page, two-sided forms were completed and coded for 7,512 adult custody arrests (Part 1). This form was used to record officer self-reports on the characteristics of the arrest situation, the suspects, and the officers, and the specific behavioral acts of officers, suspects, and bystanders in a particular arrest. Officers filled out the form following the arrest and handed it in with their arrest paperwork. The form completed by the police officers was derived from a similar study conducted in Phoenix, Arizona, during 1994 (PHOENIX [ARIZONA] USE OF FORCE PROJECT, JUNE 1994 [ICPSR 9926]) but modified to conform to the local characteristics, police terminology, and departmental policies of the participating agencies. One crucial difference in these forms from the ones used in Phoenix was the ability to identify the arrest incident. This improved the study's ability to link data from these forms with other departmental records about arrests. In addition, the researchers were able to more easily link information from suspect interviews with officer survey responses. The completion of the form by the officers was encouraged by management at roll call and by directives and videos. Police management helped disseminate blank forms but purposefully did not have possession of the completed forms, and they did not know if a particular officer completed or did not complete the form. The forms went into locked boxes that research staff collected. Research staff did not know if both an officer survey and a suspect interview had been received for an arrest until months later, when the data were coded. The ranking forms could be and likely were completed by officers who also completed an arrest survey form. However, there was no connection between an individual officer completing an arrest survey form and a ranking form. Items similar to those asked on the police survey were asked of 1,156 suspects interviewed in local jails at the time they were booked following arrest to obtain an independent assessment of officer and suspect use of force (Part 2). The researchers scheduled interviews during shifts throughout the week, but typically during the late evening and early morning hours. Officers were informed that some suspects would be interviewed but they did not know which would be interviewed, or when. Using the items included on the police survey, the research team constructed four measures of force used by police officers -- physical force, physical force plus threats, continuum of force, and maximum force. Four comparable measures of force used by arrested suspects were also developed. These measures are included in the data for Part 1. Each measure was derived by combining specific actions by law enforcement officers or by suspects in various ways. The first measure was a traditional conceptual dichotomy of arrests in which physical force was or was not used. For both the police and for suspects, the definition of physical force included any arrest in which a weapon or weaponless tactic was used. In addition, police arrests in which officers used a more severe restraint (prone cuffing, hobble, body cuff, or leg cuff) were included. The second measure, physical force plus threats, was similar to physical force but added the use of threats and displays of weapons. To address the potential limitations of these two dichotomous measures, two other measures were developed. The continuum-of-force measure captured the levels of force commonly used in official policies by the participating law enforcement agencies. Unlike the previous two measures, the continuum-of-force measures were purposefully responsive to the specific use of force policy and training in each department. To construct the fourth measure, maximum force, 503 experienced officers in five of the six jurisdictions ranked a variety of hypothetical types of force by officers and by suspects on a scale from 1 (least forceful) to 100 (most forceful). Officers were asked to rank these items based, not on department policy, but on their own personal experience. These rankings of police and suspect use of force, which appear in Part 3, were averaged for each jurisdiction and used in Part 1 to weight the behaviors that occurred in the sampled arrests.
  • Abstract

    Variables in Part 1 include jurisdiction, time of arrest (hour, night time, day of week, weekend), type of offense, if the officer was in the patrol division, the suspect's custody status upon arrival by the officer, the officer's prior knowledge of the incident location and prior knowledge of the suspect, if the suspect was impaired by drugs or alcohol, selected inside and outside locations of the arrest, and visibility at the time of the arrest. In regard to persons at the arrest scene, variables include the number of officers, suspects, and bystanders at initial contact and at completion of the arrest, relationships between victim and suspect and bystanders and suspect, if the officer had received prior medical attention, and the race and sex of the first and second officer and the suspect. Age, height, and weight are provided in categories. In regard to the encounter, variables include the type of approach (routine, backup, priority, lights and siren), how the contact was initiated, suspect and bystander demeanor toward police, police demeanor toward the suspect, the suspect's response behaviors to the officer, type of verbal interaction between the suspect and the officer, restraints used, type of flight by the suspect and pursuit by the officer, weaponless tactics used both by the suspect and the police officer, if weapons were possessed, displayed, threatened, or used by the suspect, if weapons were displayed, threatened, or used by the officer, injuries to suspect or officer, and if the suspect or officer received medical attention. Also included are the created variables for the four measures of force mentioned above. Part 2 variables include jurisdiction, time of suspect interview, officer and suspect verbal interaction and attitude toward each other, if the suspect tried to flee and, if so, how the police pursued him, restraints used, types of physical contact between the officer and the suspect, if weapons were possessed, threatened, displayed, or used by the suspect, if weapons were threatened, displayed, or used by the officer, injuries to the suspect, and if the suspect received medical treatment. Also included are the suspect's sex and race, if the suspect was a resident of the city and how long, if the suspect had ever been arrested before, how many times, and if for a felony, if the suspect had been drinking or using drugs prior to arrest, the number of witnesses/bystanders present at the arrest scene, the suspect's relationship to witnesses/bystanders, if the suspect had been or currently was a member of a gang, and if he wore gang colors. Part 3 provides officer rankings on 54 items that suspects might do or say during an arrest. Separately, officers ranked a series of 44 items that a police officer might do or say during an arrest. These items include spitting, shouting or cursing, hitting, wrestling, pushing, resisting, fleeing, commanding, using conversational voice, and using pressure point holds, as well as possession, display, threat of use, or use of several weapons (e.g., knife, chemical agent, dog, blunt object, handgun, motor vehicle).
  • Methods

    ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection: Standardized missing values.; Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes..
  • Methods

    Presence of Common Scales: None.
  • Methods

    Response Rates: Not available.
  • Table of Contents

    Datasets:

    • DS0: Study-Level Files
    • DS1: Police Officer Survey Data
    • DS2: Suspect Interview Data
    • DS3: Police Officer Ranking of Force Data
Temporal Coverage
  • 1996-08 / 1997-02
    Time period: 1996-08--1997-02
  • 1996 / 1997
    Collection date: 1996--1997
Geographic Coverage
  • California
  • Charlotte
  • Colorado
  • Colorado Springs
  • Dallas
  • Florida
  • Mecklenburg
  • North Carolina
  • San Diego
  • St. Petersburg
  • Texas
  • United States
Sampled Universe
All adult custody arrests in the participating jurisdictions during their sampling period.
Sampling
Convenience sample.
Collection Mode
  • Users are encouraged to obtain a copy of the project's final report for a more complete description of the four constructed measures of force.

Note
2006-03-30 File UG3172.ALL.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.2005-11-04 On 2005-03-14 new files were added to one or more datasets. These files included additional setup files as well as one or more of the following: SAS program, SAS transport, SPSS portable, and Stata system files. The metadata record was revised 2005-11-04 to reflect these additions. Funding insitution(s): United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (95-IJ-CX-0066).
Availability
Delivery
One or more files in this study are not available for download due to special restrictions; consult the study documentation to learn more on how to obtain the data.
Alternative Identifiers
  • 3172 (Type: ICPSR Study Number)
Relations
  • Is previous version of
    DOI: 10.3886/ICPSR03172.v1
Publications
  • Durna, Tuncay. Situational Determinants of Police Use of Force: Who the Suspect is vs. What the Suspect Does . International Police Executive Symposium, Working Paper No. 34.Geneva, Switzerland: Geneva Center for the Democratic Control of the Armed Forces. 2011.
  • Lee, Hoon, Jang, Hyunseok, Yun, Ilhong, Lim, Hyeyoung, Tushaus, David W.. An examination of police use of force utilizing police training and neighborhood contextual factors: A multilevel analysis. Policing.33, (4), 681-702.2010.
    • ID: 10.1108/13639511011085088 (DOI)
  • Rabe-Hemp, Cara E., Schuck, Annie M.. Violence against police officers: Are female officers at greater risk?. Police Quarterly.10, (4), 411-428.2007.
    • ID: 10.1177/1098611107304326 (DOI)
  • Schuck, Amie M., Rabe-Hemp, Cara. Women police: The use of force by and against female officers. Women and Criminal Justice.16, (4), 91-117.2007.
    • ID: 10.1300/J012v16n04_05 (DOI)
  • Garner, Joel H., Maxwell, Christopher D., Heraux, Cedrick. Patterns of police use of force as a measure of police integrity. Police Integrity and Ethics.Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. 2003.
  • Garner, Joel H., Maxwell, Christopher D.. Understanding the Prevalence and Severity of Force Used By and Against the Police, Executive Summary. NCJ 196693, Washington, DC: United States Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice. 2002.
    • ID: http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/196693.pdf (URL)
  • Garner, Joel H., Maxwell, Christopher D., Heraux, Cedrick G.. Characteristics associated with the prevalence and severity of force used by the police. Justice Quarterly.19, (4), 705-746.2002.
    • ID: 10.1080/07418820200095401 (DOI)
  • Garner, Joel H., Maxwell, Christopher D.. Measuring the Amount of Force Used by and Against the Police in Six Jurisdictions. Use of Force by Police: Overview of National and Local Data, Research Report. NCJ 176330, Washington, DC: United States Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice and Bureau of Justice Statistics. 1999.
  • Garner, Joel H., Maxwell, Christopher D.. Measuring the amount of force used by and against the police in six jurisdictions. Use of Force by Police: Overview of National and Local Data.Washington, DC: United States Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute for Justice and Bureau of Justice Statistics. 1999.
    • ID: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/pubs-sum/176330.htm (URL)
  • Garner, Joel H., Maxwell, Christopher D.. Understanding the Use of Force by and Against the Police in Six Jurisdictions, Final Report. NCJ 196694, Washington, DC: United States Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice. 1996.
    • ID: http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/196694.pdf (URL)

Update Metadata: 2015-08-05 | Issue Number: 6 | Registration Date: 2015-06-15

Garner, Joel H.; Maxwell, Christopher D. (2001): Understanding the Use of Force By and Against the Police in Six Jurisdictions in the United States, 1996-1997. Archival Version. Version: v0. ICPSR - Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research. Dataset. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR03172