I stumbled on a recent paper in the Police Quarterly entitled “Quick on the Draw: Assessing the Relationship Between Low Self-Control and Officer-Involved Police Shootings.”
The authors are Christopher M. Donner, Jon Maskaly, Alex R. Piquero, and Wesley G. Jennings from Loyola, U of Texas at Dallas, U of Texas at Dallas and U of South Florida, respectively.
Quoting from the paper:
While the extant literature on police use of deadly force is voluminous, it is fairly limited with regard to the inﬂuence of oﬃcer characteristics. Moreover, this is the ﬁrst known study to explore an individual-level criminological theory(i.e., self-control) in the context of police oﬃcer-involved shootings. In building on previous studies linking low self-control to negative police behavior more generally (Donner et al., 2016; Donner & Jennings, 2014), this study uses data from a sample of 1,935 Philadelphia police oﬃcers to investigate the extent to which Gottfredson and Hirschi’s (1990) general theory can predict oﬃcer-involved shootings speciﬁcally.
Based on theory and related research, it is hypothesized that oﬃcers with lower levels of self-control will be more likely to have used deadly force because police shooting incidents would provide low self-control oﬃcers (those who are more impulsive, self-centered, short-sighted, thrill-seeking, and easily provoked) with an opportunity to engage in a behavior that it is often spontaneous, can provide immediate gratiﬁcation, is adrenaline-inducing, and can provide an outlet for frustration.
Data and Sample
In this study, we use data collected by Greene et al. (2004) for an National Institute of Justice (NIJ)-sponsored study on police integrity in the PPD. The initial collaboration between Temple University and the PPD began in an eﬀort to help create an information system that would assist the PPD with integrity oversight. To aid this process, baseline information concerning possible predictors of negative police behavior was needed. The data set includes background ﬁles, academy training records, and personnel information for 2,094 police oﬃcers across 17 academy classes from 1991 to 1998. Due to missing ﬁles and incomplete academy training among some oﬃcers, the ﬁnal sample of cases included 1,935 oﬃcers. Additional methodological details may be found in Greene et al. (2004).
On average, the sample was almost 27 years of age (range: 18–55), and approximately two thirds of the sample was male. There was virtually equal representation among White (44.5%) and Black (46.0%) oﬃcers, and the sample included a smaller number of Hispanic (7.4%) and other race or ethnicity (2.1%) oﬃcers. The average education level and length of service was 13 and 3 years, respectively. About one ﬁfth (21%) of the sample was married and one tenth (10.9%) had a parent who served in law enforcement. Additional descriptive statistics may be found in Table 1.
The paper goes on:
Greene et al. (2004) were granted access to various databases maintained by the PPD Internal Aﬀairs Division and Police Board of Inquiry. Speciﬁcally, these databases contained information relating to, among other things, citizen complaints, oﬃcer-involved shootings, other internal investigations, and depart-mental disciplinary actions. These data were collected in the Year 2000; thus,oﬃcers in the sample had been out of the police academy for roughly 2 to 9 years. The outcome variable of interest in this study, police shootings, is measured dichotomously (0 = No; 1 = Yes) and reﬂects whether an oﬃcer had ever been involved in a police shooting in which they discharged their ﬁrearm.
The primary independent variable, low self-control, was constructed from selected behavioral indicators contained within an oﬃcer’s Personal Data Questionnaire (PDQ).2 Individuals, who apply to be a Philadelphia Police Oﬃcer and pass the entrance examination, are referred to the Background Unit of the police department. Here, qualiﬁed applicants are given a PDQ.The PDQ collects self-reported background information, including among other things the applicant’s identifying information, family background, residence history, educational history, employment history, credit history, military record, motor vehicle history, adult and juvenile criminal history, and drug-use history. This information is validated through an interview with a background investigator, a full background investigation, and subsequently a polygraph examination.