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Citizen Complaints and Problem Officers: Examining Officer Behavior

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 30 Issue: 2 Dated: March/April 2002 Pages: 143-155
Date Published
13 pages

This article presents the author’s examination of the relationship between citizen complaints against police officers and the officer's behavior in ordinary interactions with citizens.


The article reviews the traditional understanding of the meaning of citizen complaints regarding police officers and compares the work behavior of officers with a high rate of citizen complaints to those officers with lower rates of complaints. Data was collected in the summer of 1997 from a sample of St. Petersburg, Florida police officers. The authors explored the hypothesis that officers with a higher rate of citizen complaints may also have increased exposure to the public due to increased productivity. The authors found that this hypothesis was supported and that officers with a greater complaint rate also had increased reporting of involvement in law enforcement activities, such as suspect questioning. However, these same officers were also more likely to engage in violence and discourteous treatment toward citizens than their less often complained about counterparts. 8 tables, 19 notes, 28 references

Date Published: January 1, 2002