Police Practice and Research Vol. 12, No. 1, February 2011, 81–96
RESEARCH ARTICLE Measuring perceptions of police use of force
Eric Jefferisa*, Fredrick Butcherb and Dena Hanleyc
a College of Public Health, Kent State University, 230 Cartwright, Kent, OH 44242, USA; b Department of Political Science, Kent State University, 230 Cartwright, Kent, OH 44242, USA; cDepartment of Political Science, University of Akron, 216 Ohlin Hall, Akron, OH 44325, USA
firstname.lastname@example.org Dr 0000002010 00 EricJefferis 2010 & Francis Research Article 1561-4263 Francis Research Police and print/1477-271X online 10.1080/15614263.2010.497656 GPPR_A_497656.sgm Taylor Practice and Ltd
The purpose of this study is to examine issues in measuring perceptions of police useof-force incidents. The Force Factor developed by Alpert and Dunham in 1997 is assessed as an objective, use-of-force measure by comparing it to several previously used measures of the perceived legitimacy of force used by officers in arrest situations. Findings indicate that few predictor variables are consistently related to the various measures of perceptions of the legitimacy of a single use-of-force incident. While the Force Factor uniquely considers level of suspect resistance, it does not appear to overcome perceptual biases inherent to measures of police use-of-force incidents. Keywords: police; force; excessive force; perceptions; force factor; media
Introduction Few studies have examined the impact of various conceptualizations of police use-of-force measures, despite a wealth of literature covering both lethal and non-lethal types of police use of force.1 Research that has considered measurement issues has focused primarily on wording of questions regarding varying levels of support for the police (e.g., general vs. specific support [Brandl, Frank, Wooldredge, & Watkins, 1997]). The current study is primarily interested in assessing the utility of an adaptation of the Force Factor (Alpert & Dunham, 1997;...