Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Criminology and Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Hibdon, Julie


The ability to use force by police officers is one of their defining features. Police officers have a monopoly on the legitimate use of coercive force in the United States. A police officer’s decision to use force in an encounter depends on the behavior of both officer and citizen in an officer-citizen encounter. Each party interacts with, and responds to, the other over the course of the encounter, with each behavior and subsequent response drawing the encounter closer to its ultimate conclusion. As representatives of government, police officers have perhaps greater control in steering the interaction towards or away from a forceful conclusion. Using various techniques, police officers often can de-escalate an officer-citizen encounter before use of force is required. These techniques include things such as explaining the purpose of the interaction, keeping a respectful and safe distance from citizens, providing an introduction to citizens, exhibiting a calm and controlled demeanor, speaking directly and concisely, repeating important information, engaging in active listening, and clearly explaining the consequences of the offenders actions. The current study utilizes police officer body camera footage to examine if and how these eight officer de-escalation practices predict whether or not officers’ resort to using force in an officer-citizen encounter. Furthermore, the eight techniques are divided into proactive and reactive techniques in order to test whether a specific set of de-escalation techniques are more effective than another.




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