Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2020

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Abraham S. Fischler College of Education

Advisor

Marcelo Castro

Committee Member

Grace Telesco

Committee Member

Tina Jaeckle

Abstract

This study was designed to explore the predictors of lethality for the outcome of police officer assault with injury and felonious death. Recent news has focused on police brutality and their excessive use of force. Conversely, the inverse relationship has not received much focus. To explore the aforementioned relationship, data from the LEOKA program on 1,375 officers who were feloniously killed or assaulted with serious injury between the years of 2008 and 2017 were examined to determine the statistical significance between several predictor variables and the outcome variable.

Binary logistic regression was used to answer the research questions posed by this study. An analysis of the data revealed that although age as an overall predictor was not significant, as officers aged, the odds for officers feloniously killed was higher. Years of experience as an officer was not a significant predictor for lethality. However, officers with more experience were, almost invariably, more likely to be feloniously killed than those with less than one year of experience. Gender and race were also not significant predictors of lethality for officers feloniously killed. However, the odds for female officers, although less likely than male officers to be feloniously killed, were high when considering their population was low at approximately 5% of the sample population. The Midwest region was a significant predictor for felonious death. Population density appeared to be a significant predictor for lethality among officers feloniously killed. Furthermore, it appears that areas with a smaller population density had a higher odds ratio for officers feloniously killed than areas with more than 100,000 people. The type of weapon used by an assailant and an officer’s use of their weapon appeared to be significant predictors of lethality for officers feloniously killed. Assailants who used other types of weapons such as vehicles, bombs, or personal weapons were more likely to lead to an officer’s felonious death than a handgun. Officers appeared to be much more likely to be feloniously killed in incidents where they did not fire their weapon.

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