Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 11 Dated: (1983) Pages: 181-185
This review of 'Split Second Decisions: Shootings of and by Chicago Police' (Geller and Karales, 1981) asserts that methodological flaws and misstatements make this study suspect as a scholarly contribution.
The Geller and Karales study encompassed all recorded shootings (in which a person was hit) by Chicago police officers during 1974-78. It tabulated the characteristics of shooting incidents and participants (with a minimum of statistical analysis), presented historical and legal analyses of deadly force policies and procedures, and provided an overview of earlier research and recommendations for controlling police use of deadly force. The author maintains that the study is weakest in social science methodology and strongest in arguments of law. A central methodological weakness is the lack of inferential statistics in some areas and their misuse in others. Also, the author argues, the study should have used all incidents where police fired their weapons, not just the occasions when hits occurred. In bolstering support for their preferred policy of using police deadly force only in immediate defense of life, Geller and Karales present an inaccurate list of departments throughout the country which they claim have such a policy. The study does contain statistics and many summary statements that will be useful to law enforcement decisionmakers and researchers.
Date Published: January 1, 1983