Abuse of Police Authority

The Abuse of Police Authority: A National Study of Police Officers’ Attitudes by David Weisburd, Rosann Greenspan, Edwin E. Hamilton, Kellie A. Bryant, Hubert Williams (2001)

This report presents the results of the first truly representative national survey of how America’s rank-and-file police officers and their supervisors view critical issues of abuse of police authority. Officer responses are also analyzed according to rank, race, region of the U.S., and size of department. The survey instrument with responses is included. Presented are officers’ views on:

  • Whether abuse of police authority is a necessary byproduct of efforts to reduce and control crime;
  • What types of abuse and attitudes toward abuse are observed in their departments, including the code of silence, whistle blowing, and the extent to which a citizen’s race, demeanor, and class affect the way police officers treat them;
  • What strategies or tactics-including first-line supervision, community policing, citizen review boards, and training-do police officers consider to be effective means of preventing police abuse of authority.

The full report with appendices, the report narrative, and individual appendices are available in Adobe PDF format as follows.*

*This publication may be downloaded free of charge and the information may be used and copies made for research, academic, policy or other non-commercial purposes. Proper attribution is required.

See this page for information on permission to reprint. Copyright of the written materials contained within the Police Foundation Web site is owned or controlled by the Police Foundation. Posting Police Foundation copyrighted material on other Web sites is not permitted but the foundation welcomes external links to material posted on its Web site.