The Murder of Police Officers

The Murder of Police Officers

The Murder of Police Officers

The Murder of Police Officers

Synopsis

Robert J. Kaminski is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of South Carolina.

Excerpt

Macro-level research on homicides of police has focused on the influence of structural features of areas that generate criminal motivation. The implicit assumption has been that criminogenic conditions (e.g., high levels of poverty, economic inequality, broken families, population mobility) increase crime, which in turn increases police risk of homicide victimization. With few exceptions, then, theory used to explain spatial or temporal patterns of police homicides have mirrored traditional theories of offender motivation developed to explain crime and victimization generally. Traditional theories of offender motivation, however, ignore routine activities and lifestyles of persons that facilitate or impede opportunities for crime and victimization. Models developed to explain homicides of police also have tended to ignore routine activity factors that likely influence opportunities for the victimization of field officers, particularly organizational differences across police departments or variation in “routine work activities.”

This study advances research on violence against the police by incorporating both structural covariates and routine work activity factors in a model of police homicide victimization. Based on criminal opportunity theory, it is hypothesized that differences in levels of exposure to motivated offenders and officer physical and social guardianship across 190 municipal law enforcement agencies in four time periods influence opportunities for murders of police, once the effects of criminogenic structural conditions of the jurisdictions in which agencies are located have been taken into account (i.e., proximity to motivated offenders). Given the generally inconsistent results obtained in previous research, particular attention is paid to statistical modeling issues, such as collinearity among regressors, clustering, and the rare-event count nature of the dependent variable.

Multiple regression analyses reveal that measures of social (e.g., proportion of one- vs. two-officer patrol units) and physical . . .

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