Dissecting the Complexities of the Relationship Between Police Officer-Civilian Race/Ethnicity Dyads and Less-Than-Lethal Use of Force

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Abstract

Objectives

To examine how sublethal use-of-force patterns vary across officer-civilian race/ethnicity while accounting for officer-, civilian-, and situational-level factors.

Methods

We extracted cross-sectional data from 5630 use-of-force reports from the Dallas Police Department in 2014 and 2015. We categorized each officer-civilian interaction into race/ethnicity dyads. We used multilevel, mixed logistic regression models to evaluate the relationship between race/ethnicity dyads and the types of use of force.

Results

Forty-eight percent of use-of-force interactions occurred between a White officer and a non-White civilian (White-non-White). In bivariate models, the odds of hard-empty hand control and intermediate weapon use were significantly higher among White-Black dyads compared with White-White dyads. The bivariate odds of intermediate weapon use were also significantly higher among Black-Black, Hispanic-White, Black-Hispanic, and Hispanic-Black dyads compared with White-White dyads. However, after we controlled for individual and situational factors, the relationship between race/ethnicity dyad and hard-empty hand control was no longer significant.

Conclusions

Although we observed significant bivariate relationships between race/ethnicity dyads and use of force, these relationships largely dissipated after we controlled for other factors.

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