Police Officers' Encounters with Disrespectful Citizens

Police Officers' Encounters with Disrespectful Citizens

Police Officers' Encounters with Disrespectful Citizens

Police Officers' Encounters with Disrespectful Citizens

Synopsis

Utilizing survey data from officers in a mid-sized city police department in the United States and the London Metropolitan Police, Pizio seeks to understand the breadth of behaviors that officers find disrespectful, to discover how often officers perceive that they are experiencing disrespectful citizens, and to make cross-national comparisons. When assessing officer-based, occupation-based, and country-based characteristics, findings reveal few differences between officers in each country, supporting the notion that police in different countries are more alike than not. Additionally, education and experience were found to be positively related to disrespect in both countries, and in the U.K. unarmed officers anticipated disrespect more often than armed officers.

Excerpt

Since the bombings on September 11, 2001, interest and academic research in both international and transnational crime has been increasing (see Bennett, 2004). Indeed, more recent occurrences of transnational criminal activity and the capture or killing of high-level terrorists has resulted in research that has sought out better understandings of crime in different countries and how crime has become increasingly transnational in nature. To a lesser extent, studies have also examined and compared the structure and operation of institutions in different criminal justice systems and how those operations and policies may differ on the world stage (see for example Bayley, 1985; Waddington, 1999; see also Bennett, 2004; Olsen et al., 2010). Even fewer studies have examined extra-legal factors that may influence police officers’ (or other criminal justice workers’) discretionary responses. The purpose of this study is to shed light on what police officers believe to be disrespectful citizen behaviors and to compare the factors that influence how often officers experience disrespect from citizens in two first-world countries.

In the United States, numerous studies have been conducted which have examined the effects of extra-legal variables on police decisionmaking. Within that realm, studies have focused on the influence of a suspect’s antagonistic demeanor and disrespect toward the police on the decision to arrest or use force. Many have found that the severity of outcome in a low level encounter may very well be in the hands (and mouth) of the suspect. The research has all but definitively concluded that when a suspect displays an antagonistic demeanor, is disrespectful, hostile, or fails to defer to the officer’s authority, the probability that . . .

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