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Police Use of Force: An Analysis of Factors that Affect Police Officer’s Decision to Use Force on Suspects

Author Affiliations

  • 1 Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Indiana State University, USA

Int. Res. J. Social Sci., Volume 2, Issue (9), Pages 1-6, September,14 (2013)


The purpose of this study is to investigate the multivariate relationship between a selected number of demographic and behavioral factors that best predict the likelihood of police use force on a suspect. Specifically, this study attempts to determine the amount of variation that can be explained in officer’s decision to use force on suspects by taking into account factors that relate to the suspect (e.g., age, gender, race, and suspect’s behavior) and factors that relate to the officer (e.g., age, gender, race, and years of service as a police officer). The analyses are based on a total of 882 recorded police-suspect incidents in the Metro-Dade Police Department, Florida, U.S.A. The findings of this study show that suspect’s resistance during police-suspect encounters is the strongest predictor of police use of force, followed by suspect’s passive non-physical behavior (calm vs. visibly upset). Additionally, this study shows that officer’s years of service in the law enforcement is manifested with an increase in the likelihood of police use of force on suspects. Overall, this study shows that the largest amount of variation on police use of force is explained by suspect’s behavioral factors.


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