Understanding Police Use of Force

Officers, Suspects, and Reciprocity

by Geoffrey P. Alpert, Roger G. Dunham

Series: Cambridge Studies in Criminology

Whenever police officers come into contact with citizens there is a chance that the encounter will digress to one in which force is used on a suspect. Fortunately, most police activities do not involve the use of force. But those that do reflect important patterns of interaction between the officer and the citizen. This book examines those patterns. It begins with a brief survey of prior research, and then goes on to present data and findings. Among the data are the force factor applied - that is, the level of force used relative to suspect resistance - and data on the sequential order of incidents of force. The authors also examine police use of force from the suspect's perspective. In analyzing this data they put forward a conceptual framework, the Authority Maintenance Theory, for examining and assessing police use of force.


In The Press

'This book is a valuable resource. The contents could well be useful for officers, instructors and policy makers as well as academics …'. British Journal of Sociology