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Residual Career Patterns of Police Misconduct

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 40 Issue: 4 Dated: July/August 2012 Pages: 323-332
Christopher J. Harris
Date Published
August 2012
10 pages
This study explored police misconduct.
This study explores the extent to which patterns of police misconduct, particularly residual career length (RCL) and residual number of offenses (RNO), change over time in theoretically expected ways, and to determine whether such career features can adequately predict future misconduct when compared to traditional Early Intervention (EI) system criteria. This study employs retrospective, longitudinal data gathered for a large cohort of police officers followed for a significant portion of their careers and uses personnel complaints as the primary indicator of police misconduct. Distributions of RCL and RNO are presented according to four criteria: year of experience, complaint number, time since the last complaint, and onset of first complaint. There was a decline in RCL and RNO with experience and onset of first complaint. While RCL declined by complaint number, RNO remained steady. This is also true of time since last complaint. Risk scores derived from RCL and RNO were moderately predictive of future misconduct, but fared better than those derived from standard EI system criteria. EI systems do not adequately predict future misconduct, but there appears to be value in taking a broader view of complaint patterns of officers as a way of increasing predicative validity. (Published Abstract)