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Study: Cops with College Education Use Force Less Often

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Photo by bbones1 via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr


Photo by bbones1 via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr
A police officer with just a high school degree is more likely to use force -- verbal threats, grabbing, handcuffing, throwing to the ground, shooting, etc. -- on a suspect than an officer with some college education, a study in Police Quarterly has found. But results also concluded there's no difference when it came to arrests or searches.

“There’s so much more discretion with the use of force and more room for biases to play out,” the study's co-author told Santa Barbara-based Miller-McCune this month. “High-school educated officers are more apt to say, ‘I’m the law and I have the authority to make you do it, and I’m going to put my hands on you and make you do it.’ Officers with a four-year degree are more skilled at resolving problems without having to resort to force. They’re giving the citizen alternative means of compliance. They’re not just relying on the stick.”

Locally, the LAPD offers a small incentive to officers with college education. New hires with a BA or BS degree will earn $48,880, nearly $2,000 more than officers with some college education and close to $3,600 more than those with just a high school degree. Until recently, base salaries used to be in the mid-50s.

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But education was not the only factor when it came to fewer incidents involving use of force. Years of on-the-job experience also contributed to a decrease, albeit with lessons from mistakes.