SAGE Journal Articles

Click on the following links. Please note these will open in a new window.

LO 5-1

Organizational-Level Police Discretion

Abstract: Research on police behavior suggests that discretion is vital to police decision making. Although discretion can originate from many sources (e.g., officers, situations, structure), relatively few studies examine how organizational variables affect officer discretion. Of the studies that test whether organizational level influences shape discretion, even fewer examine their influence on lethal force. This oversight is notable in light of the overrepresentation of Blacks in lethal force incidents because organizational characteristics and policies may reduce racial disparities in the application of lethal force. Using administrative policy and police department size as proxies for organizational variables, this study tests for organizational effects and examines whether these effects vary by race. Using city-level data from 1980 to 1984, this research examines how organizational limits on discretion affect the volume of lethal force incidents. Negative binomial regression results indicate that administrative policy predicts lethal force incidents for total and Black-specific population models but not White-specific models, and department size predicts lethal force incidents for total and White-specific models but not Black-specific models. Organizational correlates of police discretion seem crucial for understanding officer behavior.


LO 5-2

Female Officers at Greater Risk?

Abstract: Violence against officers is an important topic not only because of the negative consequences to the officer but also because it is at the core of one of the most debated issues regarding female officers—their ability to deal with hostile citizens. Using arrest data from several metropolitan departments, the research compared gender differences in assaults on officers, as well as situational and individual officer factors related to the assaults. The findings suggest that when compared to male officers, female officers are at an increased risk for being assaulted in family conflict situations. Furthermore, the results suggest that female officers are at the greatest risk of being assaulted in family conflict situations when the assailant is impaired. More research is needed to better understand why family conflict situations and intoxicated assailants are especially dangerous for female officers and what policies can be instituted to mitigate this potentially threatening situation.