Police Use of Force [United States]: Official Reports, Citizen Complaints, and Legal Consequences, 1991-1992 (ICPSR 6274)
Version Date: Jul 13, 1996 View help for published
Summary View help for 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.
Citation View help for Citation
Funding View help for Funding
Subject Terms View help for Subject Terms
Geographic Coverage View help for Geographic Coverage
Distributor(s) View help for Distributor(s)
Time Period(s) View help for Time Period(s)
Date of Collection View help for Date of Collection
Data Collection Notes View help for 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.
Study Purpose View help for 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 View help for 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 View help for 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.
Universe View help for Universe
All law enforcement agencies in the United States.
Unit(s) of Observation View help for Unit(s) of Observation
Data Source View help for Data Source
Data Type(s) View help for Data Type(s)
Description of Variables View help for 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 View help for 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 View help for Presence of Common Scales
Original Release Date View help for Original Release Date
Version History View help for Version History
- 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
1994-10-17 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.
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.