National Archive of Criminal Justice Data

This dataset is maintained and distributed by the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD), the criminal justice archive within ICPSR. NACJD is primarily sponsored by three agencies within the U.S. Department of Justice: the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Police Use of Force [United States]: Official Reports, Citizen Complaints, and Legal Consequences, 1991-1992 (ICPSR 6274)

Principal Investigator(s):

Summary:

This national survey was designed to collect information on police departmental policies and practices pertaining to the use of physical force--both deadly and less than lethal--by law enforcement officers. A further objective was to investigate the enforcement of these policies by examining the extent to which complaints of policy violations were reviewed and violations punished. Additionally, the survey sought to determine the extent to which departments kept records on the use of force, and to collect from those agencies that recorded this information data relating to how frequently officers used force, the characteristics of officers who did and did not have complaints filed against them, and the training of recruits on the appropriate use of force. The study also provides data on citizen complaints of excessive force, the disposition of those complaints, and litigation concerning allegations of excessive force. Additional variables provide agency size, demographic characteristics, and workload.

Access Notes

  • One or more data files in this study are set up in a non-standard format, such as card image format. Users may need help converting these files before they can be used for analysis.

  • These data are freely available.

Dataset(s)

DS1:  Data File - Download All Files (1.8 MB)
Documentation:
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS2:  SAS Data Definition Statements - Download All Files (0.3 MB)
Data:

ASCII + SAS Setup
DS3:  User Guide
Documentation:
Download:
No downloadable data files available.

Study Description

Citation

Pate, Antony M., and Lorie A. Fridell. Police Use of Force [United States]: Official Reports, Citizen Complaints, and Legal Consequences, 1991-1992. ICPSR06274-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1994. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR06274.v1

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Funding

This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (91-IJ-CX-0028)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   citizen grievances, police citizen interactions, police departments, police officers, police training, police use of force, policies and procedures

Geographic Coverage:   United States

Time Period:  

  • 1991--1992

Date of Collection:  

  • 1992-08--1992-10

Unit of Observation:   The law enforcement agency.

Universe:   All law enforcement agencies in the United States.

Data Types:   survey data

Data Collection Notes:

Data collected for Section IV of the survey instrument, "Assaults Against Police Officers," comprise a different study and are not included in this data collection. The data collection instrument is available only in hardcopy form upon request from ICPSR.

Methodology

Study Purpose:   This study was designed to be a comprehensive national survey of law enforcement agencies on police use of force. Legally, excessive force by police is an amount of physical force more than necessary to effect a legal police function. One objective of this survey was to collect information on departmental policies and practices pertaining to the use of physical force--both deadly and less than lethal--by law enforcement officers. A further objective was to investigate the enforcement of these policies by examining the extent to which complaints of policy violations were reviewed and violations punished. Additionally, the survey sought to determine the extent to which departments kept records on the use of force, and to collect from those agencies that record this information data relating to how frequently officers used force, the characteristics of officers who did and did not have complaints filed against them, and the training of recruits on the appropriate use of force.

Study Design:   The survey was mailed in mid-August 1992. Each survey package contained a cover letter, questionnaire, a return envelope, and a postcard, which the departments were to return to the Police Foundation upon receipt of the packet. The postcard was to indicate which person within each department was completing the survey. In early September, a follow-up letter was sent by facsimile to those departments that had not returned either the postcard or the survey. Six weeks after the initial mailing, departments that had not returned either a completed questionnaire or the postcard were sent another package containing a questionnaire and a revised cover letter. Telephone calls were made to departments that had returned postcards but not questionnaires.

Sample:   A list of law enforcement agencies was used from the Law Enforcement Sector portion of the 1990 Justice Agency List (JAL) produced by the Governments Division of the Bureau of the Census. To ensure adequate representation of all agencies, a stratified sampling procedure was used to select agencies within jurisdiction size categories. After the stratification procedure was applied, 28 selected agencies were removed as ineligible. The total sample size was 1,697 law enforcement agencies.

Data Source:

self-enumerated questionnaires

Description of Variables:   Variables include total number of sworn and nonsworn personnel and total number of sworn personnel by ethnicity/race, sex, level of education, average age, length of service, and rank. Additional variables cover number of calls for service received, number of calls dispatched, whether electrical devices or chemical agents were provided for use to various staffing units, information on departmental policies on soft body armor, information on procedures to file citizen complaints of police misconduct, information on departmental procedures to investigate use of force complaints, information on departmental policy and reporting of police use of force, number of civil and criminal suits filed because of reports of excessive force, total amount paid in civil suits involving use of force, number of agency arrests of adults and juveniles for selected Part I and Part II crimes, and information on selection and training of police recruits.

Response Rates:   The overall response rate was 67.2 percent. By agency type, the response rates were: municipal police departments - 72.4 percent, county police departments - 88.9 percent, sheriffs' departments - 54.2 percent, and state agencies - 90.0 percent.

Presence of Common Scales:   None.

Extent of Processing:  ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Performed consistency checks.
  • Standardized missing values.
  • Performed recodes and/or calculated derived variables.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

Version(s)

Original ICPSR Release:  

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