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Exploring the Impact of Police Officer Education Level on Allegations of Police Misconduct

NCJ Number
International Journal of Police Science & Management Volume: 10 Issue: 4 Dated: Winter 2008 Pages: 509-523
Jennifer Manis; Carol A. Archbold; Kimberly D. Hassell
Date Published
15 pages
This study examined the links between formal and informal complaints against patrol officers in a midwestern municipal police agency and the officers’ educational levels and types of college degrees.
The study found that higher education and years of experience significantly impacted complaints for police misconduct. Officers without 4-year college degrees were more likely to receive a greater number of formal complaints. There were no statistically significant differences between the mean numbers of informal complaints based on officer educational level. There were also no statistically significant differences in type of college major and the frequency of formal and informal complaints. There were no statistically significant differences in educational level regarding the nature of informal complaints; and there were also no differences in the type of college majors associated with the nature of either formal or informal complaints. Further, officers without 4-year degrees were more likely to have a complaint against them sustained. The study involved 105 sworn patrol officers. Twenty-two percent of the patrol officers included in the study had earned at least 60 semester credits or 90 quarter credits without earning a degree. Another 12.8 percent of the patrol officers earned a 2-year degree, and 61.5 percent of the patrol officers had earned a 4-year degree. Those who had earned a master’s, law, or doctorate degree (3.7 percent) were excluded from the analyses. All formal and informal complaints filed against the patrol officers from 2002 to 2005 were examined. The four dependent variables measured were the frequency of complaints, the type/nature of complaints, the outcome/disposition of complaints, and the type of discipline used for sustained complaints. Independent variables were educational level, type of college major, years of experience, and officer age. 4 tables, 5 notes, and 34 references