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Effect of Higher Education on Police Behavior

NCJ Number
241300
Date Published
January 2010
Length
29 pages
Author(s)
Jason Rydberg, William Terrill
Agencies
NIJ-Sponsored
Annotation
This study examined the effect of officer education on three key decisionmaking points (i.e., arrest, search, and use of force).
Abstract
In the past, police scholars have examined the impact of higher education on different measures of officer behavior, most notably arrest and the use of force. Much of this prior work has suffered from poor methodologies, such as inadequate samples and the inability to control for theoretically relevant variables. In addition, previous inquires have focused on but one single behavior per study. In an attempt to overcome some of these limitations, the authors examine the effect of officer education on three key decisionmaking points (i.e., arrest, search, and use of force) by relying on observational data from two medium-sized cities. The results of the analysis indicate that higher education carries no influence over the probability of an arrest or search occurring in a police–suspect encounter. College education does, however, significantly reduce the likelihood of force occurring. Results may be due to the amount of discretion officer’s exercise in pursuing these behaviors. Recommendations for future inquiries revolving around theory development and the incorporation of research from the field of education are presented, as well as varying policy implications. Abstract published by arrangement with Sage Journals.
Date Created: December 30, 2010