Keeping the Peace: Police Discretion and the Mentally Disordered in Chicago, 1980-1981 (ICPSR 8438)

Principal Investigator(s): Teplin, Linda A.


For this data collection, information on police-citizen encounters was collected to explore the peacekeeping functions of the police and their handling of encounters with mentally ill persons. The data were gathered for part or all of 270 shifts through observations by researchers riding in police cars in two Chicago police districts during a 14-month period in 1980-1981. In Part 1 (Shift Level), information was collected once per shift on the general level of activity during the shift and the observer's perceptions of emotions/attitudes displayed by the police officers he/she observed. The file also contains, for each of the 270 shifts, information about the personal characteristics, work history, and working relationships of the police officers observed. Part 2 (Encounter Level) contains detailed information on each police-citizen encounter including its nature, location, police actions and/or responses, citizens involved, and their characteristics and behavior. A unique and consistent shift identification number is attached to each encounter so that information about police officer characteristics from Part 1 may be matched with Part 2. There are 1,382 police-citizen encounters involving 2,555 citizens in this collection.

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.

  • The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.


DS0:  Study-Level Files
DS1:  Shift Level - Download All Files (0.492 MB)
DS2:  Encounter Level - Download All Files (2.179 MB)

Study Description


Teplin, Linda A. KEEPING THE PEACE: POLICE DISCRETION AND THE MENTALLY DISORDERED IN CHICAGO, 1980-1981. Chicago, IL: Northwestern University Medical School [producer], 1981. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1985.

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This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (81-IJ-CX-4079)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    criminal justice system, decision making, emotional states, job history, mental disorders, mental health, offenders, police citizen interactions, police officers, police performance, police response, work attitudes

Geographic Coverage:    Chicago, Illinois, United States

Time Period:   

  • 1980--1981

Date of Collection:   

  • 1980--1981

Universe:    Police shifts and police-citizen interactions in two districts of Chicago.

Data Type(s):    observational data

Data Collection Notes:

(1) Missing data were recoded to 9s by the Principal Investigator and can mean either actual missing data or unknown or inapplicable data. (2) There is a hierarchical, nested relationship between the shift and encounter levels of analysis. That is, the shift level is higher than the encounter level, with a given shift involving any number of encounters. Encounters are "nested" within shifts. These two levels of data have not been integrated into a single file. However, the information necessary to create such a file exists in the identification system used. Each shift was given a unique ID number. Each encounter has two ID numbers, a shift ID and an encounter ID.


Sample:    Observations were conducted during all hours of the day during a 14-month period in 1980-1981. Evenings and weekends were oversampled to obtain a maximum amount of data in a minimum amount of time. All types of police-citizen encounters were observed and coded irrespective of any mental health component.

Data Source:

written observations


Original ICPSR Release:   1985-10-09

Version History:

  • 2006-01-12 All files were removed from dataset 3 and flagged as study-level files, so that they will accompany all downloads.
  • 2006-01-12 All files were removed from dataset 3 and flagged as study-level files, so that they will accompany all downloads.

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