This paper, authored by researchers Meagan Cahill, Melissa M. Labriola and Jirka Taylor of RAND Corporation, summarises what is currently known about police-induced deaths in the United States and identifies existing evidence on different ways to prevent these killings.
There is a relatively large body of research on these topics, but these studies often suffer from methodological shortcomings, largely stemming from the scarcity of available data. The authors present this paper focused on developing a research agenda, or roadmap, to reduce these deaths at the hands of U.S. police.
The report, based on an extensive literature review as well as interviews with police experts, contains a series of recommendations for areas where research efforts can be most effective to help inform policy making and decision making aimed at reducing police-induced deaths.
The authors identify six focus areas: foundational issues (such as racial inequalities, police culture, and police unions), data and reports, training, policy, technology, and consequences for police officers. In addition, it is worth mentioning that the authors use the terms “police killings,” “police violence,” and “police shootings” to describe this type of police behaviour, whether unlawful or not. The authors identify specific instances of these behaviours as misconduct, illegality, negligence or excess when these descriptions are applied.
The authors close the paper with a series of research priorities including the following:
- Incorporate a racial lens into studies on reducing police violence and police-induced deaths.
- Carry out research on aspects of law enforcement that teach and reinforce traditional police culture and norms and on how reform efforts might overcome resistance stemming from culture and norms.
- Carry out research on the role of unions in preventing accountability in different agency policies and in shaping the outcomes of cases involving deaths at the hands of police officers.
- Explore additional data sources and data that could provide a more reliable representation of a police violence incident, including nonfatal incidents: situational factors surrounding incidents and the use of technology before, during, and after an incident.
- Improve the collection of data on the consequences for officers following a death at the hands of the police.
- Move away from self-reported data on body-worn camera use by reviewing images and incorporating alternative data sources for incident reviews.
- Develop a consensus on what training should be implemented in all agencies.
- Identify the mechanisms by which specific policies reduce violence at the hands of the police, identifying which combination of policies is most effective in reducing police violence.
- Carry out research on the overall effects of using other technologies on lethal force.
- Study the role of prosecutors in shaping the outcomes of cases involving deaths at the hands of police.