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Curbing Police Brutality: What Works? A Reanalysis of Citizen Complaints at the Organizational Level, Final Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 1999
39 pages
This document analyzes data on citizen complaints against police use of excessive force.
This report includes two empirical studies on citizen complaints about police brutality in two areas. The first was use of excessive physical force and the second was police use of all other nonphysical forces, such as abuse of authority and verbal abuse. The purpose was to establish a baseline correlation of citizen complaint rates with various police organizational factors. Another purpose was to identify the causal effect of police brutality. The research used a regression technique, testing a series of hypotheses deduced from theories with a number of control variables. Results indicated that there was some evidence that both organizational characteristics and organizational behavior were important in predicting the citizen complaint rate. The environment in which the police worked influenced the citizen complaint rate. The composition of police departments’ personnel was also an important factor in predicting citizen complaints. Organizational behavior and organizational characteristics were important covariates of the citizen complaints against police use of excessive physical force and police abuse of power. The police administration can influence its officers’ behavior by strengthening the in-service training, paying attention to the education achievements of its officers, and actively providing the best training for qualified new police in the force. Future study is needed to observe the applications of police departmental rules in daily operation as well as whether this model can be extended to explain police brutality in operation. 7 notes, 3 tables, 50 references

Date Published: November 1, 1999