Too Much or Too Little? Individual and Situational Predictors of Police Force Relative to Suspect Resistance




Policing & Society


This study examined variations of police use of force by applying Terrill et al.’s [(2003). A management tool for evaluating police use of force: an application of the force factor. Police quarterly, 6 (2), 150–171] adaptation of Alpert and Dunham’s [(1997). The force factor: measuring police use of force relative to suspect resistance. Washington, DC: Police Executive Research Forum] Force Factor method (where the level of force is explored relative to the level of suspect resistance) via the use of Terrill et al.’s Resistance Force Comparative Scale. Using official data from the Queensland Police Service in Australia, this study examined 202 police-citizen encounters that resulted in police use of force. The impact of individual and situational factors on officers’ use of commensurate, lower, or higher relative force was explored with chi-square and multinomial logistic regression. The regression analyses found that officers’ were less likely to use higher relative force with suspects who were physically aggressive and suspects with weapons. Encounters that resulted in lower relative force were more likely to involve female suspects. These findings are discussed in relation to officer preparedness and decision-making.

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