U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Force Factor: Measuring Police Use of Force Relative to Suspect Resistance

NCJ Number
167260
Author(s)
Geoffrey P. Alpert; Roger G. Dunham
Date Published
1997
Length
23 pages
Annotation
This study focused on the level of force used by police officers relative to the amount of suspect resistance, referred to as the force factor.
Abstract
Data were obtained from police departments in Miami, Florida, and Eugene, Oregon. In the Miami data set, the level of suspect resistance was assessed according to four categories: no resistance, passive resistance, active resistance, and assault of police officer. The suspect's being Hispanic was the strongest factor in the force factor model. Female suspects received less force relative to level of resistance than male suspects, while black suspects received the most force relative to level of resistance. The relationship between the force factor and the suspect's being under the influence of alcohol or drugs during the encounter with the police was statistically significant. Female police officers used significantly less force for a given level of resistance than male police officers. Police officer injury was more likely to occur when less force was used relative to suspect resistance. In the Oregon data set, the level of suspect resistance was also assessed according to four categories: no resistance, slight resistance, moderate or high resistance, and violent or explosive resistance. The suspect's mental status at the time of the incident was the strongest factor in the force factor model. Suspects using minimal effort had the most force used against them relative to level of resistance. Violent incidents had the lowest levels of force relative to level of resistance, suspects with above average fitness received lower levels of force relative to level of resistance than suspects with average to poor physical fitness, and female suspects had less force used against them relative to level of resistance than male suspects. Further development of the force factor model is recommended. 10 references, 20 tables, and 2 figures

Date Published: January 1, 1997