Stressed-Out Cops Need Close Monitoring, Professors Say

DALLAS (CN) – Criminologists say that police officers who deal with stressors, including divorce and falling behind on paying bills are more likely to use deadly force and should be closely monitored throughout their careers.

Faculty members at the University of Texas at Dallas, Loyola University Chicago and the University of South Florida studied the personnel records of 1,935 Philadelphia police officers and published their findings in the latest issue of Police Quarterly journal.

“While the extant literature has uncovered numerous structural, organizational, and situational predictors of police shootings, studies to date are more limited with respect to individual-level factors and have essentially ignored criminological theoretical constructs,” the study states. “The results indicate that officers with lower self-control are significantly more likely to have been involved in a police shooting.”

The study found officers were 21 percent more likely to be involved in a shooting for each of eight factors of poor self-control they exhibited. The factors include having debt of more than $1,000, being under court orders, going through a divorce or separation, having traffic tickets in the past five years, paying bills late, being fired from a job, being involved in a traffic accident or having a driver’s license suspended, according to The Dallas Morning News.

Study co-author and UT-Dallas assistant criminology professor Jon Maskaly said that an officer having one or two factors can be “bad luck,” but that a pattern may require a closer look by police departments.

“Done well, this should help departments recruit and retain the best officers who can work with our community to keep our cities safe,” Maskaly told the Morning News last week.

The study comes one month after former Balch Springs police Officer Roy Oliver was charged with murder for shooting Jordan Edwards, an unarmed black teenager, who was being driven away from a party in Mesquite in suburban Dallas.

Edwards’ father filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit, claiming Oliver has “a reputation for having a short fuse” that led the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office to file a complaint against him for aggressive behavior while serving as a witness in a drunk driving case. The lawsuit also claims Oliver pulled a handgun on a motorist who rear-ended his car in southwest Dallas in April.

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