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Police Use of Less Lethal Force: Does Administrative Policy Matter?

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2017
24 pages
Since researchers have never examined the impact of less-lethal force policies in relation to the full spectrum of less-lethal force tactics, the current study examined 3,340 use-of-force incidents from three U.S. agencies, each varying in terms of policy direction and restrictiveness.
Scholars have long theorized that constraining police officer discretion via organizational policy improves decision-making. Empirically, prior research shows that more restrictive lethal force policies result in a reduction in the number of police shootings and in racial disparity. The results consistently show that officers working within the most restrictive policy framework used force less readily than officers who operated within more permissive policy environments. Hence, police administrators wishing to reduce coercion should consider the potential effect that a more restrictive policy may have on such behavior. (Publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2017