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An Examination of the Law Enforcement Role in Implementing Extreme Risk Protection Orders

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $425,304)

This study examines law enforcement's role in petitioning for and serving Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs). ERPOs create a legal mechanism for designated parties to petition courts to temporarily remove guns from persons who have indicated they may be an imminent threat to themselves or others. Law enforcement are the most common petitioners, and laws obligate police officers to remove guns from persons who refuse to surrender them voluntarily if an order is granted. Despite their centrality to the process, few studies have investigated the experience of and impacts on law enforcement in conducting these activities. 

The proposed research uses a mixed methods approach to comprehensively examine the law enforcement role in implementing ERPOs. The first objective involves fielding a survey of law enforcement agencies (n=1,200) in states with ERPO laws to document the prevalence of ERPO petitions and service (and associated outcomes, e.g., number of guns removed), organizational structures to support ERPO enforcement (i.e., policy, training, data collection), and perceived value of ERPO laws in gun violence prevention. The second objective is to conduct in-depth interviews with law enforcement officers to investigate decision-making processes, challenges, and perspectives of those who implement ERPOs. Up to 60 officers from agencies that participated in the survey will be recruited for interviews. The third objective is to synthesize findings from the agency survey and officer interviews to provide holistic and detailed guidance and considerations to policymakers, police leaders, and researchers, as ERPOs are increasingly adopted around the country.  

This mixed methods study will extend our limited knowledge about the role of law enforcement in implementing ERPOs. Currently, agency perspectives on ERPO implementation are missing from the research literature, and officer perspectives are generally limited to small samples in select states. This research will provide the most detailed data to date on the prevalence of ERPOs implemented by law enforcement, the impacts of these laws on agencies and officers, and the challenges faced during implementation. Project impact will be maximized through dissemination via multiple outlets to reach varied audiences. In addition to a detailed final report, findings will be disseminated via peer-reviewed journals, policy and research briefs, a free webinar, and at stakeholder conferences. PERF has secured the support of noted experts, including Dr. Veronica Pear (UC Davis Medical Center) and Amanda Paris (Detective, Fairfax County VA) to advise across all phases of this project.

Date Created: September 26, 2023