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A new University of Colorado Denver study examined how information provided in a dispatched call for service influences a police officer's decision to use deadly force.
The findings show a relationship between inaccurate dispatched information about the presence of a weapon and police shooting errors, especially shootings of unarmed subjects.
Paul - Taylor - PhD - Assistant - Professor
Paul Taylor, Ph.D., assistant professor of criminology in the School of Public Affairs at CU Denver, created a simulation for officers armed with laser guns in which they heard recorded dispatch calls and responded by engaging with a big-screen video of the situation. More than 300 active law enforcement officers participated in this randomized controlled experiment.
"Pre-event information about the presence of a weapon before an officer arrives on scene can have an enormous impact on officer decision-making, and consequently their actions," said Taylor. "If the information they receive is incorrect, by even the slightest amount, it can drastically increase the likelihood for an error."
Officers - Dispatch - Call - Trespass - Progress
All of the officers listened to a simulated dispatch call for a potential trespass in progress with a description of the subject involved.
One group of officers received the initial dispatch information. When they later encountered a subject matching the description from the call who rapidly produced a cellphone from his pocket, 28% of the officers shot him.
Group - Officers - Call - Update - Subject
A second group of officers listened to the same initial call with an update that said the subject "appeared to be holding a gun." 62% of the officers in this group shot the subject when he produced a cellphone.
A third group of officers received the initial dispatch information with an update that said the subject "appeared to be talking on a cellphone." 6% of officers shot the subject who quickly drew their cellphone out from their pocket.
Study - Role - Information - Context - Increases
This is the first study to examine the role of dispatched information in the context of increases...
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