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A new Northwestern University study investigated how Chicago police officers' exposure to peers who had been accused of misconduct shaped their involvement in subsequent excessive force cases.
"We found that officers who were involved in complaints related to this type of force were more likely to work with officers with a history of such behaviors, suggesting that officers' peers may serve as social conduits through which misconduct is learned and transmitted," said Andrew V. Papachristos, senior author of the study and professor of sociology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern and faculty fellow at the University's Institute for Policy Research.
Researchers - Records - Chicago - Police - Officers
Researchers examined the records of more than 8,000 Chicago police officers named in multiple complaints from 2007 to 2015 to determine the role played by social networks in officers' misconduct.
Prior research on this topic has analyzed individual or departmental factors that may be associated with police officers' problematic behaviors.
Study - Police - Officers - Work - Involvement
This study is one of the first to analyze police officers' work networks—specifically, their involvement with other officers in misconduct complaints—to determine how misconduct may be socially transmitted across deviant officers.
The study classified complaints as use of force if they entailed excessive force (use of a firearm, use of a conductive energy device) or unnecessary physical contact, or if they involved an act that resulted in injury or death.
Researchers - Police - Officers - Proportion - Colleagues
The researchers found that police officers who had a greater proportion of colleagues previously named in use-of-force complaints were more likely to be named in subsequent use-of-force complaints.
"These findings held even after controlling for officers' characteristics and for the opportunity of being named in future use-of-force complaints," said Papachristos, also director of the Northwestern Neighborhood & Network Initiative.
Study - Authors - Exposure - Behavior - Networks
The study's authors suggest that exposure to such behavior in their networks may lessen officers' perceptions of the risks associated with engaging in misconduct. Thus,...
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