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Police Use of Force: Detectives in an Urban Police Department

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice Review Volume: 31 Issue: 3 Dated: September 2006 Pages: 213-229
Thomas D. Bazley; Kim Michelle Lersch; Thomas Mieczkowski
Date Published
September 2006
17 pages
This study of an urban police department's use-of-force reports for 2000 compared detectives with patrol officers in the frequency and types of force used and the resistance encountered.
When considering only those use-of-force incidents at levels greater than handcuffing, detectives had a significantly higher and positive mean level of force-factor value. This suggests that detectives were more forceful than patrol officers when encountering lower resistance levels. This difference might be attributed to the frequency with which detectives pointed firearms at subjects, a risky practice but possibly justified in their more frequent confrontations with known violent offenders. Both detectives' and patrol officers' use of force was rare and most often at lower levels of severity. Just over 85 percent of the use-of-force incidents reported by detectives identified handcuffing as the highest force level applied. The use of transporter techniques and countermeasures (punches and kicks) were reported in less than 7 percent of all detective uses of force. The use of impact weapons and the discharge of firearms occurred in 0.6 percent of incidents. The resistance level to which force was applied was generally low. The main topic recommended for future research is how differing responsibilities and the types of suspects encountered may influence the frequency and level of force used by patrol officers and detectives. The study focused on 57 detectives in 1 urban police department in the southern United States over a 1-year period. Self-reported use of force was done on a standard department form designed specifically for the purpose of reporting and monitoring the use of force. Patrol-officer reports on use of force were examined for nonsupervisory officers below the rank of corporal (n=633). 4 tables, 2 figures, and 35 references