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Police Use of Improper Force: A Systematic Review of the Evidence

NCJ Number
Victims & Offenders Volume: 4 Issue: 1 Dated: January 2009 Pages: 25-41
Christopher J. Harris
Date Published
January 2009
17 pages
This article presents the results of a systematic review of research on police use of force.
This paper presents a systematic review of studies which consider the causes of police use of improper force, both in terms of which officers are more likely to use it, and against whom and under what conditions it occurs. The number of studies that do more than estimate the prevalence of improper force is small, and as such are reviewed in detail. What research there is suggests that situational factors have the most substantive impact on police use of improper force within police-citizen encounters, and that it is more likely to be employed by young, inexperienced, male officers across multiple encounters. Implications for research when police break the law and become offenders are discussed. (Published Abstract)