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.

Line Police Officer Knowledge of Search and Seizure Law: An Exploratory Multi-city Test in the United States, 1986-1987 (ICPSR 9981) RSS

Principal Investigator(s):

Summary:

This data collection was undertaken to gather information on the extent of police officers' knowledge of search and seizure law, an issue with important consequences for law enforcement. A specially-produced videotape depicting line duty situations that uniformed police officers frequently encounter was viewed by 478 line uniformed police officers from 52 randomly-selected cities in which search and seizure laws were determined to be no more restrictive than applicable United States Supreme Court decisions. Testing of the police officers occurred in all regions as established by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, except for the Pacific region (California, Oregon, and Washington), since search and seizure laws in these states are, in some instances, more restrictive than United States Supreme Court decisions. No testing occurred in cities with populations under 10,000 because of budget limitations. Fourteen questions to which the officers responded were presented in the videotape. Each police officer also completed a questionnaire that included questions on demographics, training, and work experience, covering their age, sex, race, shift worked, years of police experience, education, training on search and seizure law, effectiveness of various types of training instructors and methods, how easily they could obtain advice about search and seizure questions they encountered, and court outcomes of search and seizure cases in which they were involved. Police department representatives completed a separate questionnaire providing department characteristics and information on search and seizure training and procedures, such as the number of sworn officers, existence of general training and the number of hours required, existence of in-service search and seizure training and the number of hours and testing required, existence of policies and procedures on search and seizure, and means of advice available to officers about search and seizure questions. These data comprise Part 1. For purposes of comparison and interpretation of the police officer test scores, question responses were also obtained from other sources. Part 2 contains responses from 36 judges from states with search and seizure laws no more restrictive than the United States Supreme Court decisions, as well as responses from a demographic and work-experience questionnaire inquiring about their age, law school attendance, general judicial experience, and judicial experience and education specific to search and seizure laws. All geographic regions except New England and the Pacific were represented by the judges. Part 3, Comparison Data, contains answers to the 14 test questions only, from 15 elected district attorneys, 6 assistant district attorneys, the district attorney in another city and 11 of his assistant district attorneys, a police attorney with expertise in search and seizure law, 24 police academy trainees with no previous police work experience who were tested before search and seizure law training, a second group of 17 police academy trainees -- some with police work experience but no search and seizure law training, 55 law enforcement officer trainees from a third academy tested immediately after search and seizure training, 7 technical college students with no previous education or training on search and seizure law, and 27 university criminal justice course students, also with no search and seizure law education or training.

Access Notes

  • These data are freely available.

Dataset(s)

DS0:  Study-Level Files
Documentation:
DS1:  Police Data - Download All Files (716 KB)
DS2:  Judges Data - Download All Files (225 KB)
DS3:  Comparison Data - Download All Files (220 KB)
DS5:  SAS Data Definition Statements for Police Data - Download All Files (204 KB)
Data:

ASCII + SAS Setup
DS6:  SAS Data Definition Statements for Judges Data - Download All Files (178 KB)
Data:

ASCII + SAS Setup
DS7:  SAS Data Definition Statements for Comparison Data - Download All Files (172 KB)
Data:

ASCII + SAS Setup

Study Description

Citation

Memory, John Madison. Line Police Officer Knowledge of Search and Seizure Law: An Exploratory Multi-city Test in the United States, 1986-1987. ICPSR09981-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1995. doi:10.3886/ICPSR09981.v1

Persistent URL:

Export Citation:

  • RIS (generic format for RefWorks, EndNote, etc.)
  • EndNote XML (EndNote X4.0.1 or higher)

Funding

This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (85-IJ-CX-0071 and OJP-87-M-304)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   civil rights, district attorneys, knowledge level, police officers, police training, policies and procedures, search and seizure laws, Supreme Court decisions

Geographic Coverage:   United States

Time Period:  

  • 1986--1987

Date of Collection:  

  • 1986--1987

Unit of Observation:   Individuals.

Universe:   All police officers in states where the search and seizure laws are no more restrictive than the United States Supreme Court decisions.

Data Types:   survey data

Data Collection Notes:

Users are encouraged to obtain a copy of the Final Report for a complete description of the sampling procedures used to select the police officers and information about the selection of the comparison groups.

Methodology

Study Purpose:   A line uniformed police officer's lack of knowledge of search and seizure law can result in a variety of consequences, including violation of a citizen's Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment constitutional rights, exclusion of items seized from introduction into evidence at trial, failure to obtain conviction of clearly guilty persons, failure to take authorized law enforcement action, and liability for damages and disciplinary action by the officers' department. Information about officers' knowledge of search and seizure law may also be relevant to significant issues such as the effectiveness of various types of police training, higher education of police, police selection, and the effect of the Mapp exclusionary rule. This research project addressed the following questions: (1) How well can line uniformed police officers in states with search and seizure laws no more restrictive than United States Supreme Court decisions apply that law? (2) How great is the variation in knowledge from department to department and region to region? (3) What types of training and police department procedures are associated with relatively greater success in application of search and seizure law? and (4) Generally, which demographic and experiential variables show statistically significant relationships with officer ability to apply this law?

Study Design:   A specially-produced videotape depicting line duty situations that uniformed police officers frequently encounter was viewed by 478 line uniformed police officers from 52 randomly-selected cities in which search and seizure laws were determined to be no more restrictive than applicable United States Supreme Court decisions. The 14 videotape scripts and questions received favorable legal sufficiency review by a recognized national authority on search and seizure law. Also, two panels of experts on search and seizure law reviewed the videotaped test and, except for one panel asserting that Question 4 had two arguably correct answers, concluded that the test was legally valid. A research project staff member conducted testing in each city. At predetermined times, the videotape was stopped and subjects were asked one or more questions about what action the officers in the videotape could lawfully take. Subjects were shown and read a full version of each alternative answer and then shown and read a short-form version of the same answers. Subjects marked their answers after the short-form versions were provided. Police officers marked their answers on index cards that were collected before the tape continued. Other groups marked their answers on answer sheets. The police officers also completed a questionnaire that included questions on demographics, training, and work experience. Police department representatives completed a separate questionnaire providing department characteristics and information on search and seizure training and procedures. For purposes of comparison and interpretation of the police officer test scores, judges, prosecutors, police trainees, and college and university students were also tested. The 46 state criminal trial court judges tested were all attending a one-week course for judges on constitutional criminal procedure. The day after answering the video questions, 36 judges also completed a demographic and work-experience questionnaire. These 36 judges were from states with search and seizure laws no more restrictive than the United States Supreme Court decisions. Other comparison groups included 15 elected district attorneys attending a state prosecutors' association meeting, 6 assistant district attorneys from a major city's district attorney's office, the district attorney in another city and 11 of his assistant district attorneys, a police attorney with expertise in search and seizure law, 24 police academy trainees with no previous police work experience who were tested before search and seizure law training, a second group of 17 police academy trainees -- some with police work experience but no search and seizure law training, 55 law enforcement officer trainees from a third academy tested immediately after search and seizure training, 7 technical college students with no previous education or training on search and seizure law, and 27 university criminal justice course students, also with no search and seizure law education or training.

Sample:   The number of officers tested in particular cities was based on the number of police officers employed in cities of particular sizes in regions of the United States. None of the comparison groups was randomly selected.

Data Source:

self-enumerated questionnaires and test responses to situations shown in a videotape

Description of Variables:   In addition to the 14 test responses, police officers provided information on their age, sex, race, shift worked, years of police experience, education, training on search and seizure law, effectiveness of various types of training instructors and methods, how easily they could obtain advice about search and seizure questions they encountered, and court outcomes of search and seizure cases in which they were involved. Police department representatives provided information on the number of sworn officers, existence of general training and the number of hours required, existence of in-service search and seizure training and the number of hours and testing required, existence of policies and procedures on search and seizure, and means of advice available to officers about search and seizure questions. Judges provided information about their age, law school attendance, general judicial experience, and judicial experience and education specific to search and seizure laws. Data from all other comparison groups are comprised of only the test question responses.

Response Rates:   Not applicable.

Presence of Common Scales:   Several Likert-type scales were used.

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:  

Version History:

  • 2006-01-12 All files were removed from dataset 4 and flagged as study-level files, so that they will accompany all downloads.
  • 2005-11-04 On 2005-03-14 new files were added to one or more datasets. These files included additional setup files as well as one or more of the following: SAS program, SAS transport, SPSS portable, and Stata system files. The metadata record was revised 2005-11-04 to reflect these additions.

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