Patterns of Repeated Involvement in Violent Incidents of Police Officers: The Case of Switzerland

Patrik Manzoni, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
Manuel Eisner, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology

This paper examines determinants of police officers' involvement in violent incidents, that is victimization and use of force respectively, on the basis of a self-report survey of frontline police officers in a Swiss city. We show that a small proportion of police officers account for a disproportional amount of all violent incidents reported. We examine several explanations for high involvement in violent interactions. According to routine activity theory high involvement in violence may be due to a high-risk work profile. Strain theory would lead us to assume that stressful conditions may trigger stressrelated outcomes which in turn may be associated with higher levels of violent involvement. Accordingly, we test effects of operational and organisational stress, dissatisfaction, commitment and burnout. Finally, high involvement in violence may result from personality-related variables such as low self-control. We estimate multivariate logistic regressions examining the relative impact of these concepts. Deeper insight to the mentioned patterns might be of crucial importance for an administration's policy of protecting officers from both physical and psychological harm.

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Updated 05/20/2006