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Assessment of Cognitive Performance-based Training to Improve Police Decision-making

Award Information

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

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2018, $846,536)

The applicant proposes a study to address two research questions: (1) What individual trait factors, including expertise, influence the adaptive decision-making ability among officers? and (2) Can structured video-based decision-making training focused on expertise development improve the adaptive decision-making ability of officers? The conceptual framework of the proposal builds on the empirical literature on the role expertise has in adaptive decision-making ability.

Adaptive decision-making is the officer’s ability to adapt to usual, unpredictable, uncertain and difficult cases, which can improve the optimal outcomes in police-citizen interactions and decrease sub-optimal outcomes. The project contains two phases: 1) examining the influence of expertise relative to other individual traits on adaptive decision-making ability, 2) assessing the ability of structured video-based decision-making training to improve expertise and subsequently adaptive decision-making ability. The study involves partnerships with four law enforcement agencies: Wichita (KS) Police Department, Aurora (CO) Police Department, Richland County (SC) Sheriff’s Department, and the Fort Myers (FL) Police Department. The first three agencies have agreed to have 105 officers from each of their agencies participate in the study, and the fourth agency has agreed to supply body-worn camera (BWC) footage from their officers to be used in the structured video training. (To deliver the video to participants, the applicant intends to use the BJA Patrol Expert cognitive training platform.)

The study calls for a randomized control trial evaluation of the structured video training. Officers from each of the three agencies will be randomly selected into experimental and control groups. All officers in phase one will complete a personality inventory survey and then engage a decision-making simulator, where their performance will be evaluated for adaptive decision-making. The survey and simulator performance data from phase one will be analyzed to examine the influence of individual traits, including expertise, on adaptive decision-making. In phase two, the experimental group officers will participate in an online-administered structure video-based decision-making training program, with ten sessions conducted over a 7-month period. All control and experimental officers will then engage the decision-making simulator again, and the groups will be examined for changes in adaptive decision-making. The proposed analyses will also examine individual improvement relative to individual traits captured in phase one.

"Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law," and complies with Part 200 Uniform Requirements - 2 CFR 200.210(a)(14).


Date Created: September 21, 2018