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Modern police tactics, police-citizen interactions, and the prospects for reform

Author(s): Mummolo, Jonathan F.

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Abstract: © 2017 by the Southern Political Science Association. All rights reserved. High-profile incidents of police misconduct have led to widespread calls for law enforcement reform. But prior studies cast doubt on whether police commanders can control officers, and offer few policy remedies because of their focus on potentially immutable officer traits like personality. I advance an alternative, institutional perspective and demonstrate that police officers-sometimes characterized as autonomous-are highly responsive to managerial directives. Using millions of records of police-citizen interactions alongside officer interviews, I evaluate the impact of a change to the protocol for stopping criminal suspects on police performance. An interrupted time series analysis shows the directive produced an immediate increase in the rate of stops producing evidence of the suspected crime. Interviewed officers said the order signaled increased managerial scrutiny, leading them to adopt more conservative tactics. Procedural changes can quickly and dramatically alter officer behavior, suggesting a reform strategy sometimes forestalled by psychological and personality-driven accounts of police reform.
Publication Date: 1-Jan-2018
Citation: Mummolo, J. (2018). Modern police tactics, police-citizen interactions, and the prospects for reform. Journal of Politics, 80 (1), 1 - 15. doi:10.1086/694393
DOI: doi:10.1086/694393
ISSN: 0022-3816
EISSN: 1468-2508
Pages: 1 - 15
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Journal of Politics
Version: Final published version. Article is made available in OAR by the publisher's permission or policy.

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