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Police Attitudes Toward Abuse of Authority: Findings From a National Study, Research in Brief

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2000
15 pages
Publication Series
This Brief reports the findings of a nationwide survey of police officers’ views on the abuse of police authority.
The survey contacted 925 randomly selected officers from 121 departments. The majority of officers believed that: (1) It is unacceptable to use more force than legally allowable to control someone who physically assaults an officer; (2) Extreme cases of police abuse of authority occur infrequently; (3) Their departments take a “tough stand” on the issue of police abuse; (4) At times their fellow officers use more force than necessary when making an arrest; (5) It is not unusual for officers to ignore improper conduct by their fellow officers; (6) Training and education are effective ways to reduce police abuse; (7) A department’s chief and first-line supervisors can play an important role in preventing police from abusing authority; and (8) Community-oriented policing reduces or has no impact upon the potential for police abuse. In addition, race was a divisive issue for these officers. Black and nonblack officers had significantly different views about the effect of a citizen’s race and socioeconomic status on the likelihood of police abuse of authority and about the effect of community policing on the potential for abuse. Tables, notes, references

Date Published: June 1, 2000