Traveling at 1000 Feet per Second with Unalterable Consequences: How to Decrease Police Officer-Involved Shootings

Penny Geyer, University of New Haven

In 2019, there were 1,004 individuals killed in police officer-involved shootings throughout the United States (Fatal Force, 2020). Aside from the person losing his/her life, the ripple effect that occurs from just one deadly force encounter is infinite. Consequences are experienced by the police officer who must live with the decision to take another human being’s life, to the families of those involved, and to the community at large. The purpose of this report is to present law enforcement agencies in the United States with several clear, concise, and evidenced-based approaches, which if implemented systematically can assist in the reduction of police officer-involved shootings.

While there has been an inundation of research focusing on police use of lethal force, there has been a significant disconnect between the world of academia and police practitioners (Robinson, 2020). The haphazard application of current use of deadly force policies, where empirical testing is either non-existent or playing catch-up to measures already put into place, is extremely problematic (Engel et al., 2020; Wolfe et al., 2020). The complete prevention of use of force incidents is not possible; however, the policy recommendations in this brief can assist in decreasing their occurrence. Enhanced training protocols and de-escalation techniques can lessen the potential for officers to have to make a lethal use of force decision, or at least enable them to be the most prepared for having to issue such a life-altering judgment call.


Preventing Police Officer-Involved Shootings

Presented below, for use by law enforcement agencies of all sizes, and within varying jurisdictions throughout the United States, is a two-prong policy approach to reduce the occurrence of police use of force incidents. From the first day a recruit attends the police academy, one of the most emphasized rules is officer safety: to be able to go home at the end of one’s shift (Stoughton, 2014). Therefore, it is no surprise that the grounding of policies and procedures for public safety agencies is centered on the safety of their officers. However, these agencies must determine whether more can be done to accomplish this, not only for the well-being of the officers they employ, but for the citizens they are charged with protecting. To do so, each department needs to assess, for instance, whether there has been training for all responding personnel in de-escalation techniques. Are de-escalation skills a focus of recruitment training, as well as in-service seminars for current officers, or are they an underdeveloped afterthought? Is incident response and tactical training conducted uniformly and regularly throughout the department, to ensure every officer is as prepared as best they can be for the situations they may face? Is critical thinking and communication skill development fostered in the academy, or just the use of physical control? Police officer-involved shootings clearly jeopardize the safety of the officer and the public, so by not answering the above questions with a resounding “yes,” then the alteration of current policies is necessary, as said policies are not accomplishing their main intent.



Police use-of-force cases unfortunately are not a new phenomenon. In 1858, an unarmed man, John Hollis, was shot in the back by an officer of the New York Police Department after he had run away from the officer and had been caught and restrained by a civilian (Blumenthal, 2015). Since that time, there have been such infamous cases as Samuel Shepherd in 1951 (Mettler, 2019), Bernard Whitehurst in 1975 (Krajicek, 2018), Phillip Pannell in 1990 (Hanley, 1990), Amadou Diallo in 1999 (Fritsch, 2000), and Michael Brown in 2014 (Shin, 2017). As previously mentioned, according to a database compiled and maintained by The Washington Post, in 2019 there were 1,004 individuals shot and killed by law enforcement officers (Fatal Force, 2020). In 59% of these cases, the individual killed had a gun (Fatal Force, 2020). There is no question that when a criminal suspect is endangering the life of an officer, or members of the public, deadly force may be the only option. However, the focus of this paper is on the other 415 cases where procedures involving de-escalation protocols and improved tactical training possibly could have altered the outcome of the situation. Nineteen percent of those killed had mental illness issues; those unarmed accounted for four percent; and 32 percent, while armed, did not have a firearm (Fatal Force, 2020). That is not to say that each of these incidents would have not resulted in lethal force, but if some could be handled differently, a life might have been saved, and an officer may not have had to deal with the resulting personal and professional upheaval (Police Executive Research Forum, 2016).

As of January 1, 2019, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (2018) initiated a use-of-force data collection program to obtain a more comprehensive understanding of such incidents, however, to date no data are available for analysis. While the exact quantification of use-of-force per department across the United States is not possible, New Jersey has operationalized their own use-of-force database, where one department alone had over 115 incidents in 2015 (McCarthy & Stirling, 2019). This New Jersey municipality, with only 50 police personnel employed, had one officer that alone accounted for over one-fifth of the department’s use-of-force incidents (McCarthy & Stirling, 2019). While these incidents are not necessarily police officer involved shootings, the potential for use-of-force to escalate to a weapon discharge is a plausible outcome (McElvain & Kposowa, 2004). These events not only affect the officer(s) involved, the individual shot, as well as his/her family, but society as a whole. The New York City 2,000 protestor march and Ferguson riots, resulting from the Diallo and Brown shooting deaths, respectively (Rashbaum, 2000; Mott 2017) are prime examples of the significant impact police use-of-force situations can produce and the need for implementation of better policies and procedures.


Pre-Existing Policies

When an officer-involved shooting occurs, there is a significant amount of subsequent “Monday morning quarterbacking” (Holloway et al., 2017). From a departmental administrative review, to a legal review, and sometimes intense media judgment, the scrutiny of an officer’s split-second decision-making by distanced observers having the benefit of 20/20 hindsight is unending. With this focus on retrospective analysis, there has been a limit on the formulation of forward-looking policies and procedures (Holloway et al., 2017). Offered below is a brief discussion focusing on current de-escalation instruction, as well as recruit and fully certified officer training, to establish the groundwork for the proposal of more effective policy options.



Millions of police-citizen interactions occur each year, with almost half (49%) of these contacts being police-initiated (Langton & Durose, 2013). De-escalation training, which highlights the importance of verbal strategies and training situations that are reality-based, is meant to provide officers with the necessary skills to address conflict while performing their duties (Abanonu, 2018). De-escalation techniques serve two purposes, one of which is a decrease in lethal use of force, and the other being improved perceptions of police-citizen interactions by community members (Todak, 2017). Both results lead to the strengthening of the legitimacy of the police, thereby making officers more effective in their duties and citizens more inclined to comply with the law (Todak, 2017).

A California-based police department demonstrates the value of dedicating more training hours to de-escalation techniques. In one year, from 2006 to 2007, the Richmond Police Department had one fatal shooting and four non-fatal shooting incidents (Rogers, 2014). After the implementation of quarterly de-escalation training in 2008 through 2014, less than one officer per year was involved in a shooting, with none of them being lethal (Rogers, 2014). These statistics contrast drastically with Contra Costa County, wherein Richmond lies and where Contra Costa County Sherriff’s deputies shot 15 individuals, nine of them fatally, between 2008 and 2013 (Rogers, 2014). Other agencies reporting drastic declines in fatal police-officer involved shootings, following the introduction of de-escalation training for their officers, were the Las Vegas Police Department and Dallas Police Department (Lee, 2018).

Unfortunately, a survey conducted of law enforcement agencies within the United States by the Police Executive Research Forum (2015) indicated that recruit training in de-escalation occurs at the rate of only one hour for every eight hours dedicated to use of force instruction. Furthermore, the survey found that only 65% of those responding agencies provided in-service training for current officers on de-escalation, versus the 93% devoted to firearms in-service training. Moreover, for those agencies that did incorporate de-escalation skills into their in-service training protocol, only 5% of the instruction period was devoted to this technique, compared to 18% for firearms and 13% for defensive tactics (Police Executive Research Forum, 2015).


General Training

Throughout the United States, many law enforcement training academies are modeled after a military-style boot camp (Rahr & Rice, 2015). A recruit leaves the academy as “a warrior ready for battle,” which does not adequately prepare a new officer for the realities of policing (Rahr & Rice, 2015, p. 4). Instead, skills such a critical thinking and problem solving need to become the focus of the training paradigm, to effectively equip new officers with the mental skills they will need in their new public roles (Rahr & Rice, 2015). Furthermore, throughout the United States, police academies focus heavily on tactical training involving physical control and weaponry, all in the vein of officer safety. Not realized is the fact that statistically the best tools in protecting an officer’s welfare are cognitive skills, and the ability to deftly handle social interactions (Rahr & Rice, 2015). While tactical training is, and needs to remain, an essential component of recruit instruction, the value of instilling critical thinking and communication skills are just as imperative.

Training of officers needs to extend beyond their gun belt. While their firearm, Taser, pepper spray, or baton may rest at the officer’s waist, training should be to only utilize them when all non-violent methods are exhausted or not applicable to the situation (Stoughton, 2014). The implementation of tactical training that is more flexible in nature is necessary. Stoughton (2014) suggests a moving away from a “frontal assault” protocol, where officers hurry to a direct face-to-face confrontation, to an angled approach that provides officer safety while also allowing for information gathering. This is just one example, out of the myriad of different tactical strategies that can be added to departmental policy, so that occurrences of a fatal shooting can be minimized.

Even beyond introducing new tactical responses, law enforcement agencies must recognize a significant problem that surrounds the fundamental tactics taught to officers when they put on the uniform. That problem, termed by Snook (2000) as “practical drift,” is “the slow steady uncoupling of local practice from written procedure” (p. 24). In simple terms, this describes what occurs when personnel alter their daily work procedures, without repercussions or negative feedback, thereby essentially making these deviations in daily work acceptable (Snook, 2000).

Klinger (2020) applies the idea of practical drift to police officer-involved shootings. Specifically, while recognizing the training of officers in basic tactics such as keeping a safe distance, he notes that tactical shortcuts occur throughout one’s career, with no resulting consequences, leading to a new norm of tactical strategies for the officer. It is critical for departmental leaders to be aware of the existence of practical drift and to take appropriate steps to prevent it from occurring. Unfortunately, the completion of tactical reviews by officers and departments typically is not frequent, and when a fatal incident occurs, these reviews come too late (Klinger, 2020).


Policy Options

Based on the available research, the following policy options exist for law enforcement agencies seeking to reduce the potential for their officers to be involved in a fatal shooting incident:

  1. Police academy-based revisions: De-escalation skills required at the rate of at least 25% of the hours dedicated to firearms and physical control tactics taught. Military-style boot camp approach abandoned and replaced with one centered on critical thinking, cognitive skills, and communication efficiency in social interactions.

  2. Departmental-based revisions: For all current officers, require yearly in-house training sessions focused on de-escalation skills, problem-solving techniques, and interpersonal contacts. Also, mandate yearly tactical training refresher courses where basic tactics and flexible strategic alternatives can be both reviewed and practiced.

  3. Police academy and departmental-based revisions: A combination of options 1 and 2, but at a more extensive level. For de-escalation at the academy-level, an increase in the hours taught to 50% of the hours dedicated to more physical methods. For the departmental aspect, making a review of de-escalation skills and tactical maneuvers part of a twice-yearly in-service training. Additionally, at least one annual review should occur, whereby a supervisor shadows his/her subordinates to assess their adherence to the tactical policies and procedures of the department.


Advantages and Disadvantages

Option 1:

Police academy-based revisions: De-escalation skills required at the rate of at least 25% of the hours dedicated to firearms and physical control tactics taught. Military-style boot camp approach abandoned and replaced with one centered on critical thinking, cognitive skills, and communication efficiency in social interactions.



Recruits graduating the academy with more de-escalation training than their predecessors

Reluctance to change from the “warrior” mentality


Recruits starting their careers cognitively equipped to address situations in a less physical manner when possible

Loss of time on other material if academy length not extended


Potential for an increase in police legitimacy as new officers will have better developed interpersonal skills to interact with the public

Techniques and skills not accepted by fellow officers after graduation and therefore not utilized


Option 2:

Departmental-based revisions: For all current officers, require yearly in-house training sessions focused on de-escalation skills, problem-solving techniques, and interpersonal contacts. Also, mandate yearly tactical training refresher courses where basic tactics and flexible strategic alternatives can be both reviewed and practiced.



De-escalation techniques taught and reinforced to potentially decrease a non-lethal to lethal situation from developing

Cost of training


Increased police officer-citizen legitimacy

Personnel and resource limitations


Keep officers’ tactical skills proficient

Receptivity of officers to training


Prevent practical drift from occurring

Scheduling logistics


Option 3:

Police academy and departmental-based revisions: A combination of options 1 and 2, but at a more extensive level. For de-escalation at the academy-level, an increase in the hours taught to 50% of the hours dedicated to more physical methods. Additionally, an implementation of a shift in focus to more cognitive-based skills for social interactions is necessary. For the departmental aspect, making a review of de-escalation skills and tactical maneuvers part of a twice-yearly in-service training. Additionally, at least one annual review should occur whereby a supervisor shadows his/her subordinates to assess their adherence to the tactical policies and procedures of the department.



Recruits and current officers being well versed in de-escalation techniques to potentially decrease use of force incidents

Additional cost of potentially needing to extend academy length to fit in all required material, plus the added hours of focus on de-escalation training


Improved relations between police officers and citizens within the community

Lack of officer receptivity to new focus of cognitive skills and de-escalation


Recruits and current officers remaining tactically sound in their responses to incidents


Increased cost of additional training

Recruits and current officers staying current with new and improved tactical procedures

Personal and resource limitations


Continual improvement and development of decision-making skills and effective communication





A review of a fatal police officer-involved shooting never can assess fully the true totality of the circumstances at the time the officer made the decision to fire a deadly weapon. Examining an officer’s judgment by considering the collection and analysis of facts, but in the aftermath of a deadly use of force incident, is always going to be missing one critical element: human nature and perception. Unless one could physically go back in time and place oneself in the officer’s boots, there is never going to be a way to pass judgment on such a situation without some measure of error. From the early days in the police academy, when officers are just starting their careers, a mantra of personal safety becomes as embedded in one’s psyche as the Pledge of Allegiance while in grammar school. “It is better to be judged by twelve than carried by six” (Wren, 1973) becomes a guiding principle throughout an officer’s career. In the 589 officer-involved fatal shootings in 2019, the other individual had a firearm. Could de-escalation or improved tactical skills have made a difference in the outcome of these cases? Perhaps, but “maybe” goes against the very core of every police officer, as underneath the uniform and badge, they are only human.

Therefore, predicated on the fact that not all situations an officer faces will be appropriate for de-escalation, or that even with the best tactical approach the use of lethal force may still be unavoidable, the following policy recommendation is provided. Police officer-involved shootings still will occur; however, by following the recommendations of this policy brief and putting more “tools” in an officer’s gun belt, there hopefully can be a decrease in the number of shooting incidents. There were 41 unarmed individuals shot and killed by police in 2019 (Fatal Force, 2020). These are the specific cases that de-escalation and general training policies can target to not only protect the life of the suspect, but also all others affected in the aftermath of the incident.

The recommendation of this brief is for Option #3, the implementation of significantly increased hours, both in the police academy and during in-service trainings, centered on de-escalation skills, improved cognitive reasoning, and enhanced tactical strategies. De-escalation training, at only 8 hours compared to 58 for firearms and 49 for defensive tactics, is not enough. Specifically, this report recommends a dedication of minimally 50% of the hours focused on firearms and physical control tactics for de-escalation skills. This would equate to 54 hours during the academy phase of an officer’s career. Furthermore, mandating 100% of in-service training on de-escalation, instead of only 65%, is imperative. Additionally, the doubling of the focus on de-escalation to at least 10%, instead of the limited and current 5%, needs to happen in the near future (Police Executive Research Forum, 2015). This training is also to occur twice annually, instead of the current annual or even biennial occurrence.

Unfortunately, there is a scarcity of empirical research on the effects of de-escalation training on police officer-involved shootings. However, as noted by several departments, there is a significant decline in such fatal incidents after implementation of policy reforms, including increased de-escalation instruction. One such example is the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, who had been involved in a multi-year project conducted by the United States Department of Justice to reform their deadly force policies (Collins et al., 2014). Included within the policy changes was the integration of better de-escalation training for their officers. While noted in the evaluation report to require a bit more refinement, the steps taken to increase de-escalation skills throughout the department were a significant step in the right direction (Collins et al., 2014). Furthermore, although it is not possible to directly tie de-escalation training to the monthly 36% decrease in the number of Las Vegas Metro police officer-involved shootings since 2011, its incorporation into the reform measures appears to validate the reform effects (Blasky, 2014).

The Dallas Police Department is another law enforcement agency that demonstrated a significant decline in use of force cases, from 147 in 2009 to only 13 in 2015, after introducing reality-based de-escalation training to its officers (Griffith, 2016). Just being able to view the positive effects of implementing de-escalation skills and training is not enough. Social interaction and enhanced communication skills are essential to subvert a situation from becoming a fatal encounter (Wolfe et al., 2020). Police academies need to embrace these cognitive-based techniques and lessen their current military-style boot camp culture.

The second-prong of this policy recommendation is implementation of twice yearly tactical in-service sessions, as well as yearly supervisory reviews of individual officers’ tactical approaches. Continual reinforcement of physical control methods and firearms proficiency are essential, as they are skills that will perish with non-use (Wolfe et al., 2020). Furthermore, Klinger’s (2020) assertion of practical drift, an officer developing tactical shortcuts, is precisely why conducting tactical reviews on a more regular basis is essential.

With approximately 18,000 separate and varied law enforcement agencies throughout the United States, and little to no consistency in their training, policies, or procedures, the implementation of this policy recommendation universally may be extremely difficult (Reaves, 2011). Regardless, a pervading issue faced by departments nationwide, regardless of size or location, is fatal police officer-involved shootings. There is no magic answer to prevent these situations from occurring. However, with the implementation of policies focused on de-escalation, increased development of problem-solving skills, and continued tactical strategy reviews, those fatal decisions, traveling at 1000 feet per second, hopefully will diminish.


Annotated Bibliography

Abanonu, R. (2018). De-escalating police-citizen encounters. Review of Law and Social Justice, 27(3), 239-269.

This review on the use of de-escalation by police officers during interactions with citizens covers three main areas. First, provided is the present literature on de-escalation, as well as an overview of de-escalation training across several police departments throughout the United States. A second section provides actual case studies of police-citizen encounters both during routine traffic stops and on the street interactions. Presented are case studies to demonstrate how escalation of the situation occurred and how de-escalation techniques could have assisted in a different outcome. Offered in the last section are recommendations, such as the revision of training programs with a focus on reality-based de-escalation techniques, to reduce police-citizen interaction escalation.


Blasky, M. (2014, May 23). Federal report: Las Vegas police shootings down, department reforms up. Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved from

This newspaper article discusses the final Community Oriented Policing Services report on the reforms implemented within the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. The department had voluntarily participated in a review of their use of force policies after a police-officer involved shootings peaked at 25 incidents in 2011. Noted was that after 72 of the 80 reforms suggested were implemented, including increased de-escalation there was an average of 36% monthly decrease in officer-involved shootings.


Blumenthal, R. (2015, April 24). Police killing of unarmed man agitated New York. . .in the 1950's. New York Times. Retrieved from

This article compares the 1858 shooting of an unarmed man, by a New York City police officer, to a contemporary incident of an unarmed black man being shot by a white police officer in South Carolina. Discussed are the details of the 1858 shooting and how its relevancy can be seen in contemporary times use of force incidents.


Collins, M., Cole, C., Finn, J., & Lawrence, S. (2014). Assessment of the Collaborative Reform Initiative in the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department: A catalyst for change. Crime and Justice Institute at Community Resources for Justice, United States Department of Justice. Washington, DC: Community Oriented Policing Services.

This report provides the results of an assessment, conducted under the Collaborative Reform Initiative for Technical Assistance, of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. The key findings were the significant and continued verbal and tactical de-escalation skill development, a 36% reduction in officer-involved shootings from 2010 to 2015, and greater departmental transparency and sharing of information pertaining to officer-involved shootings.


Engel, R., McManus, H., & Isaza, G. (2020). Moving beyond “best practice”: Experiences in police reform and a call for evidence to reduce officer-involved shootings. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 687(1), 146-165. doi:

This article presents favorable reform strategies, implemented by law enforcement agencies, that are focused on police officer-involved shootings and use of force. Noted was endorsement of de-escalation training by numerous national law enforcement organizations, but that also a lack of empirical testing on its effects in officer use of force of force incidents was evident. The authors recognized the fact that police leaders are needing to make policy changes to address the changing environment of policing, however urge for more in-depth testing of these new practices to fully assess their effects and to promote more evidenced-based approaches.


Fatal Force. (2020, March 10). Washington Post. Retrieved from

A database compiled of fatal police officer-involved shootings within the United States during 2019. Listed, if known, are the name, gender, race, location, age, presence/absence of mental illness, weapon type, if present, and whether police body camera footage was available or not, for each incident where a police officer killed an individual.


Fritsch, J. (2000, February 26). The Diallo verdict: The overview; 4 officers in Diallo shooting are acquitted of all charges. The New York Times. Retrieved from

The article discusses the acquittal of four New York City police officers in the shooting death of an unarmed immigrant man. The officers admitted their mistake in thinking the victim had a gun, when it was his wallet, but insisted it was the victim's fault for not heeding their commands. The victim was fired at 41 times with 19 bullets striking him.


Griffith, D. (2016, March 2). De-escalation training: Learning to back-off. Police Magazine. Retrieved from

This article first notes that eight of the 30 guiding principles pertaining to police use of force and policy training, provided by the Police Executive Research Forum, a criminal justice think-tank, focus on de-escalation. The importance of a good de-escalation program, one that highlights good communication skills and the importance of safety tactics that are proven effective, is advocated. Provided are models of de-escalation in-service training programs to demonstrate how several departments have recognized the value of such training, while also making the point that such training programs have been hindered by monetary constraints in some departments.


Hanley, R. (1990, April 11). Officer kills teenage boy in Teaneck. The New York Times. Retrieved from

This article discusses the deadly police officer-involved shooting of a teenage boy. The police had been called for a disturbance in the neighborhood. The complainant told police one of the teenagers causing the issues had a gun. Witnesses stated the boy did not have a gun and although he did run from the police the shooting was not necessary.


Holloway, J., Lee, C., & Smoot, S. (2017). Root cause analysis: A tool to promote officer safety and reduce officer involved shootings over time. Villanova Law Review, 62(5), 883-924.

This article proposes a way to reduce officer-involved shootings, aside from improved decision-making training and the administrative deliverance of negative consequences to deter such actions. The third method highlighted involves the use of root-cause analysis (RCA). It is suggested that by utilizing RCA the underlying factors that lead to an officer-involved shooting can be not only identified, but also addressed. The lessons learned from past deadly shooting incidents are to be used to prevent future ones. Argued is that the current officer-involved shooting accountability reviews are retrospective in nature, in that they do not focus on the underlying components that lead to the deadly event, and therefore cannot produce any forms of preventable measures.


Klinger, D. (2020). Organizational accidents and deadly police-involved violence: Some thoughts on extending theory, expanding research, and improving police practice. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 687(1), 28-48. doi:DOI: 10.1177/0002716219892913

This article analyzes violence, both committed by police officers and against them, through the lens of organization accident theory. Presented are key ideas, such as developing police department cultures centered on safety in the form of grounded tactical techniques and administrative practices, as well as limitations of the theory. Additionally, discussed are practical drift, revenge effects, and the fact that these incidents all involve humans as factors in police officer-involved shootings that require more development to fully understand their impact potential.


Krajicek, D. (2018, November 5). Black and white in Alabama: The scarred legacy of a 1975 police shooting. The Crime Report. Retrieved from

The article discusses the release of a book focused on the shooting of a black man by a white officer in Montgomery, Alabama. The officer claimed the man was armed, but no weapon was initially found. A short time later a gun was found at the scene, but was ultimately determined to be planted by other officers. Also presented is the ensuing lack of any meaningful consequences for the officers' actions.


Langton, L., & Durose, M. (2013). Police behavior during traffic and street stops, 2011. United States Department of Justice. Washington, D.C. : Bureau of Justice Statistics.

This report presents data on police behavior during traffic and street stops. Key findings indicated that 71% of individuals involved in a street stop reported appropriate behavior on the part of the police and 88% of those involved in a vehicle stop felt the officer's behavior was proper. Also noted was that minority drivers were ticketed and searched more than White drivers and only 1% of drivers stopped had physical force used against them. Additionally, almost half (49%) of police-citizen encounters were involuntary in nature or police-initiated.


Lee, C. (2018). Reforming the law on police use of deadly force: De-escalation, pre-seizure conduct, and imperfect self-defense. University of Illinois Law Review, 2, pp. 629-692.

This article discusses the current legislation on police use of lethal force and argues for a reform of these statues. Proposed is that for a shooting to be determined justified an officer's belief that lethal force was necessary, as well as the reasonableness of his actions, must be considered. Suggested to determine whether an officer's actions were reasonable is that one must consider whether the suspect had or appeared to have a weapon, whether de-escalation techniques were employed, and whether pre-seizure conduct occurred. Amended contemporary law regarding police use of deadly force with, the aforementioned factors are suggested to aid in police-community relations, by increasing trust in deadly use of force proceedings.


McCarthy, C., & Stirling, S. (2019, February 28). How we built the most comprehensive statewide database of police force in the United States. Retrieved from New

This article discusses the development of a database in New Jersey that contains all police use of force incidents that occur within the state. The records cover every municipal police department, as well as the State Police.


McElvain, J., & Kposowa, A. (2004). Police officer characteristics and internal affairs investigations for use of force allegations. Journal of Criminal Justice, 32, 265-279.

This study looked to assess whether there is a relationship between characteristics of an officer, such as age, race, gender, or experience, and use of force complaints that are investigated by internal affairs. Found was that departmental experience, specifically an individual with less than ten years on the job, is the strongest predictor of use of force allegations. Found was that age, gender, and prior internal affairs investigations were also statistically significant. Race was the one variable that did not have significance in predicting use of force accusations. Concluded was that training and mentoring of the younger and newer officers in the department could aid in the reduction of use of force allegations.


Mettler, K. (2019, January 11). Miscarriage of justice: Florida finally pardons four black men accused of rape in 1949. The Washington Post. Retrieved from

This article discusses the shooting of two black men and the wrongful conviction of another two after being accused of rape by a white female in Florida. Eventually discovered was evidence that showed the victim, as well as the examining medical doctor, had lied. A clemency board eventually determined that the two surviving men did not receive a fair trial. Granted posthumously were pardons for the two men killed by law enforcement agents.


Mott, R. (2017, August 9). Three years after Michael Brown's death, has Ferguson changed? NBC News. Retrieved from

This article looks at what has happened in the three years since a black man was fatally shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Noted was that African Americans had an increased presence on the city council and on the police force. However, a significant problem of trust was still evident between the community and police personnel.


Police Executive Research Forum. (2015). Critical issues in policing series: Re-engineering training on police use of force. Washington, D.C.: Police Executive Research Forum.

This report highlights the changes that police executives across the United States are implementing within their departments to address current use of force issues. These changes focus on policies, training, and even altering the culture of policing itself. Reiterated is the importance of providing improved de-escalation training and to better equip officers to handle situations without resorting to use of force when possible. Also advocated for was the entire revamping of the culture surrounding use of force, its policies and training.


Police Executive Research Forum. (2016). Critical issues in policing series: Guiding principles on use of force. Washington, D.C. : Police Executive Research Forum.

This report focuses on police use of force, its effect on the relationship between the public and law enforcement, and officer as well as citizen safety. The improvement of use of force policies, trainings, and tactical strategies, regarding individuals that may behave erratically for some reason, such as mental illness or drug dependency, as well as situations where an individual is unarmed or armed with a weapon other than a firearm, are discussed. Presented are field studies from around the world, alongside recommendations from police executives and law enforcement professionals, to highlight guiding principles in policy, training and tactics, equipment, and information sharing.


Rahr, S., & Rice, S. (2015, April). From warriors to guardians: Recommitting American police culture to democratic ideals. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice. Retrieved from

Production of this paper occurred after an executive session on policing and public safety. Argued is that instead of law enforcement agencies succeeding in effective community policing, there has been an ever increasing disconnect between community members and police. The cause of this gap is linked to a police culture rooted in a warrior mentality that begins with an officer's initial training in a military boot camp-style police academy. Provided is Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission's principles for transforming police culture in their state to one with a guardian mentality as an example of the potential for future change in police training.


Rashbaum, W. (2000, February 27). The Diallo case: The protests; Marchers protest the Diallo verdict, taunting police along the way. The New York Times. Retrieved from

This article discusses the 2,000-person march that occurred in New York City in protest of the acquittal of charges against four officers in the shooting death of Amadou Diallo.


Reaves, B. (2011, July). Census of state and local law enforcement agencies, 2008. (NCJ 233982). United States Department of Justice. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics. Retrieved from

This report provides statistics pertaining to local and state law enforcement agencies throughout the United States. The data collected indicated in 2008 there were 765,000 sworn officers and 17,985 law enforcement agencies in the United States. Additionally, local police departments accounted for 60% of the sworn personnel employment with Sheriff's offices accounting for the next largest amount at 24%.


Robinson, L. (2020). Five years after Ferguson: Reflecting on police reform and what’s ahead. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 687(1), 228-239. doi:

Discussed are policing reforms at local, state, and federal level considering the changes that have occurred since the police officer-involved shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Noted is that since the fatal incident policing has not been the same. Discussed are barriers to the necessary reform changes, as well as the consideration of four essential points to enhance steps forward. Not only is the importance of improving community trust imperative, but also needed is a culture change in recruitment training, internal support for reform, and a decrease in the interaction gap between academia and law enforcement.


Rogers, R. (2014, September 6). Use of deadly force disappears on Richmond streets. East Bay Times. Retrieved from

This article discusses how the Richmond Police Department, in California, has experienced a drastic decline in police officer-involved shootings since incorporating de-escalation training into their departmental policy. Specifically, the department provides monthly firearm training and quarterly role-playing exercises that emphasize communication skills.


Shin, A. (2017, August 3). Recalling the protests, riots after fatal police shooting of Michael Brown. The Washington Post. Retrieved from

The article discusses the shooting death of a black man by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Recalled are the riots and protests that engulfed the city after the shooting.


Snook, S. (2000). Friendly fire: The accidental shootdown of U.S. Blackhawks over northern Iraq. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

This book covers the accidental shooting down of two United States military helicopters by two United States Air Force fighters. The book aims to provide an explanation for this incident, such as the theory of practical drift.


Stoughton, S. (2014, December 12). How police training contributes to avoidable deaths: To save lives, cops must be taught to think beyond the gun belt. The Atlantic. Retrieved from

This article discusses the importance of reforming police officer training in several areas. Recommended first it is that while the gravity of risks faced by an officer cannot be dismissed, an officer's perception must be altered to recognize that the probability of those risks occurring during an interaction are statistically extremely low. Secondly, training needs to address unconscious racial bias that may be present. Two other suggestions focus on police use of force. First, it is suggested, to potentially minimize the need to depend on force, especially lethal force, training that focuses on de-escalation and flexible tactics. Also, emphasized is the importance of thorough review procedures when use of force occurs.


Todak, N. (2017). De-escalation in police-citizen encounters: A mixed-methods study of a misunderstood policing strategy. (Publication No. 10607150) [Doctoral dissertation, Arizona State University]. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.

This dissertation presents a mixed-methods study of de-escalation in law enforcement. Established was the concept of de-escalation through interviews and a focus group, and then combined with observations of 131 police-citizen encounters to empirically assess de-escalation tactics in the field. Noted was that in most of the situations de-escalation techniques decreased the escalation of incidents and that although de-escalation did not work in all encounters, there remained numerous possible scenarios in which it would be beneficial.


Wolfe, S., Rojek, J., McLean, K., & Alpert, G. (2020). Social interaction training to reduce police use of force. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 687(1), 124-145. doi:

This study analyzes police-citizen encounters through the lens of social interaction skills. The hypothesis, that police officers receiving improved social interaction training will decrease the possibility of an officer-involved shooting, was supported in two randomized trials of training programs. The results indicated that officers who received social interaction training prioritized communication with citizens, in hypothetical police-citizen encounters, over physical control. Progressing from these positive effects of social interaction training, the study then addresses the best method of implementation and the corresponding barriers that must be overcome.


Wren, C. (1973, January 31). Official ban ignored. New York Times, p. 85. Retrieved from

This newspaper article covers a 1973 ban against New York City police officers carrying an extra weapon on duty. Reported was that patrol officers were carrying unauthorized personal weapons after four officers had been killed in less than 72 hours. Even with the potential for charges to be pressed if caught with an additional firearm, one officer was noted how he rather live to be brought to trial and judged by his peers than die on the job.


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