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Police Officer Characteristics and Internal Affairs Investigations for Use of Force Allegations

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 32 Issue: 3 Dated: May/June 2004 Pages: 265-279
James P. McElvain; Augustine J. Kposowa
Kent B. Joscelyn
Date Published
May 2004
15 pages
This study investigated whether there was a relationship between police officer characteristics and internal affairs investigations for allegations of use of force.
In examining actual cases in which an officer was investigated for allegedly using improper force, this study attempted to determine whether there were common characteristics, such as experience, race, gender, and age possessed by police officers that were investigated for allegations of using force. The study examined one large southern California sheriff’s department internal affairs investigations, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department regarding allegations of police use of force. Individual officers were looked at to determine whether there were certain characteristics about them that correlated with alleged use of force incidents resulting in internal affairs investigations. A pattern of common characteristics shared by officers who were investigated for allegations of using force was found. The strongest predictor of investigations for alleged use of force was departmental experience. A typical officer that was investigated was a young male with less than 10 years experience working in the Sheriff’s Department that had been investigated for prior allegations of use of force. Race was not a significant risk factor in the findings. Age was found to be a significant risk factor with younger officers being investigated for use of force considerably more than older officers. In addition, the analysis showed that officers investigated for alleged use of force were more likely to be investigated in the future. Study limitations and implications are discussed. References and appendix