UTD study shows link between low self-control and deadly force used by officers

A recent UT-Dallas study showed that police officers who show low self-control in their personal lives are more likely to use deadly force in the field.

The study was published online in the Police Quarterly journal. It evaluated responses of 1,935 Philadelphia Police Department officers to measure each officer's level of self-control.

The study found that officers who tested for low self-control were more likely to be involved in shootings.

The officers' self-control was based off the following factors: a history of a suspended driver's license, involvement in a motor vehicle accident, had ever been behind on paying bills, had loans or debts over $1,000, been under any type of court order, been divorced or separated or received a traffic ticket in the past five years.

Researchers said that the findings should encourage police departments to pay attention to behavioral patterns that demonstrate low-self control when screening officer candidates.

"Police departments can and should develop and employ screening devices to help them identify applicants who may need more additional vetting," Alex Piquero, a criminology professor and co-author of the study said. "Done well, this should help departments recruit and retain the best officers who can work with the community to keep our cities safe."

The other co-authors of the study are Dr. Jon Maskaly, Dr. Christopher Donner and Dr. Wesley Jennings.

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