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.

Role of Police Psychology in Controlling Excessive Force in 50 Large Cities in the United States, 1992 (ICPSR 6402)

Principal Investigator(s):

Summary:

As part of the development of an information base for subsequent policy initiatives, the National Institute of Justice sponsored a nationwide survey of police psychologists to learn more about the characteristics of officers who abuse force, the types of measures police psychologists recommend to control police violence and the role of police psychologists in preventing and identifying individual police officers at risk for use of excessive force. Police personnel divisions in 50 large cities were contacted for names and addresses of the police psychologists who provided services to their departments. Data were collected using a telephone interview protocol that included 61 questions. In this study, excessive force was defined as a violation of a police department's use-of-force policy by an incumbent officer that was serious enough to warrant a referral to the police psychologist. Background information collected on respondents included years with the department, years as a police psychologist, if the position was salaried or consultant, and how often the psychologist met with the police chief. A battery of questions pertaining to screening was asked, including whether the psychologist performed pre-employment psychological screening and what methods were used to identify job candidates with a propensity to use excessive force. Questions regarding monitoring procedures asked if and how police officer behavior was monitored and if incumbent officers were tested for propensity to use excessive force. Items concerning police training included which officers the psychologist trained, what types of training covering excessive force were conducted, and what modules should be included in training to reduce excessive force. Information about mental health services was elicited, with questions on whether the psychologist counseled officers charged with excessive force, what models were used, how the psychologist knew if the intervention had been successful, what factors limited the effectiveness of counseling police officers, characteristics of officers prone to use excessive force, how these officers are best identified, and who or what has the most influence on these officers. General opinion questions asked about factors that increase excessive force behavior and what services could be utilized to reduce excessive force.

Access Notes

  • These data are freely available.

Dataset(s)

DS1:  Data File - Download All Files (0.4 MB)
Documentation:
Data:
ASCII
ASCII + SPSS Setup
DS2:  SAS Data Definition Statements - Download All Files (0.1 MB)
Data:

ASCII + SAS Setup

Study Description

Citation

Scrivner, Ellen M. ROLE OF POLICE PSYCHOLOGY IN CONTROLLING EXCESSIVE FORCE IN 50 LARGE CITIES IN THE UNITED STATES, 1992. ICPSR version. Washington, DC: U.S. Dept. of Justice, National Institute of Justice [producer], 1992. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1996. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR06402.v1

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Funding

This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (92-IJ-CX-0002)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   police officers, police training, police use of force, psychological evaluation, violence

Geographic Coverage:   United States

Time Period:  

  • 1992

Date of Collection:  

  • 1992

Unit of Observation:   Individuals.

Universe:   Police psychologists serving police departments in cities with populations over 100,000 in the United States.

Data Types:   survey data

Methodology

Study Purpose:   Control of excessive force is a major problem for police departments and the communities they serve. Repeated showings of the videotape in March 1991 that documented Rodney King's treatment by police officers in Los Angeles created nationwide concern about police abuse of citizens. As a result, the Department of Justice called for research to determine the nature and extent of and best means to control the use of force by the nation's police officers. As part of the development of an information base for subsequent policy initiatives, the National Institute of Justice sponsored a nationwide survey of police psychologists to learn more about the characteristics of officers who abuse force, the types of measures police psychologists recommend to control police violence, and the role of police psychologists in preventing and identifying individual police officers at risk for use of excessive force. At the onset of this study, it was not known whether police departments were making full use of psychologists' skills and of the psychologists themselves as resources for proactive problem-solving, since no previous systematic attempt had been made to obtain this information. The objective of the survey was to answer the following questions: (1) What types of professional services do psychologists provide in police departments? (2) How are these services used by police departments to control the use of force? (3) How do psychologists characterize officers who abuse force, and are their acts a unique type of violence in the workplace? (4) Are there promising intervention strategies based on police psychology that can help police managers reduce the incidence of excessive force?

Study Design:   Police personnel divisions in the 50 selected cities were contacted for names and addresses of the police psychologists who provided services to their departments. In most instances, the department provided the name of more than one psychologist. Each of the 95 psychologists identified was sent a letter requesting his or her participation and explaining the scope and methods of the study. The letter also provided a written guarantee of confidentiality for participants' departments. Data were collected using a telephone interview protocol that included 61 questions. In this study, excessive force was defined as a violation of a police department's use-of-force policy by an incumbent officer that was serious enough to warrant a referral to the police psychologist. The constraints of this operational definition limits selected interview responses to only the most serious offenders. Data were not captured on officers who use excessive force but are not referred to the department psychologist, or on officers who use force but against whom charges are not pressed.

Sample:   Police psychologists representing 50 of the largest police departments in the United States in cities with populations exceeding 100,000 were chosen. Cities were selected from two sources: "Uniform Crime Reports for the United States" (1990) and the "Jeffers Directory" (1990).

Data Source:

telephone interviews

Description of Variables:   Background information collected on respondents included years with the department, years as a police psychologist, if the position was salaried or consultant, and how often the psychologist met with the police chief. A battery of questions pertaining to screening was asked, including whether the psychologist performed pre-employment psychological screening and what methods were used to identify job candidates with a propensity to use excessive force. Questions regarding monitoring procedures asked if and how police officer behavior was monitored and if incumbent officers were tested for propensity to use excessive force. Items concerning police training included which officers the psychologist trained, what types of training covering excessive force were conducted, and what modules should be included in training to reduce excessive force. Information about mental health services was elicited, with questions on whether the psychologist counseled officers charged with excessive force, what models were used, how the psychologist knew if the intervention had been successful, what factors limited the effectiveness of counseling police officers, characteristics of officers prone to use excessive force, how these officers are best identified, and who or what has the most influence on these officers. General opinion questions asked about factors that increase excessive force behavior and what services could be utilized to reduce excessive force.

Response Rates:   Sixty-five psychologists participated in the study, representing 68 percent of the 95 psychologists originally contacted. Nine psychologists (9.5 percent) were excluded from the study because their contact with the police department was too limited. Six psychologists (6 percent) refused to participate. Fifteen psychologists (15.8 percent) who agreed to participate were unable to be scheduled for interviews because of conflicts.

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:

  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

Version(s)

Original ICPSR Release:  

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