U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Impact of Agency Context, Policies, and Practices on Violence Against Police

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 37 Issue: 6 Dated: November-December 2009 Pages: 542-552
Date Published
December 2009
11 pages

This study identified the factors related to both police agency context, policies, and practices that influence the levels of serious assault and murders of on-duty police officers.


The study found that no agency policy or practice related to increasing officer safety significantly reduced violence against police. This does not mean that such departmental policies and procedures do not improve officer safety. There are many policies and procedures that virtually all agencies use to promote and improve officer safety. This study did not measure the impact of these universal measures; indeed, this was not possible, because these would not be "variables," but rather constants. By necessity, this study attempted to identify the ways agencies varied in their practices. The study found that agency promotion of body armor use was linked to an increase in violence against on-duty officers; however, since this was a cross-sectional study rather than a longitudinal study, there was no way of determining whether the promotion of body armor use preceded or followed an increase in violence against police officers. An increase in the variable that reflected the highest level at which use of force was reviewed was associated with a 4.56-percent decrease in violence against officers. This variable reflected a more accountable, less aggressive agency. This finding is consistent with prior research that has shown agencies with cultures that support aggressive policing experienced more assaults against sworn personnel. The study also found that an increase in reported violent crime in a jurisdiction was associated with a slight increase in violence against officers, controlling for the other measures of crime and criminogenic conditions. Identified weaknesses of the current research design are used in proposing design improvements for future similar research. 1 figure, 3 tables, 13 notes, and 68 references

Date Published: December 1, 2009