Exclusive: PoliceOne and LSU's survey of how Ferguson, Dallas have impacted cops

We asked street officers and supervisors to weigh in on a number of topics – from use of force to career satisfaction

In collaboration with Louisiana State University, PoliceOne issued a survey that explored officers’ views related to policing in the post-Ferguson era (August 2014-June 2016) and their feelings since the ambush attacks in Dallas and Baton Rouge (July 2016-present). This survey resulted in over 3,346 responses on topics ranging from use of force to career satisfaction.

In our special coverage series, “Major Event Impact: How Ferguson and Dallas Changed Police Psychology”, PoliceOne is publishing several items as a result of the survey findings.  

1. Data Summary

In this Nov. 25, 2014 file photo, protesters vandalize a police vehicle outside of Ferguson city hall in Ferguson, Mo. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)
In this Nov. 25, 2014 file photo, protesters vandalize a police vehicle outside of Ferguson city hall in Ferguson, Mo. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

The data summary provides an overview of the data and responses collected. You’ll quickly see that the 54 percent of the respondents are line officers and 46 percent are supervisors. The information contained in the data summary is incredibly valuable to all department leaders and can be used to inform policy, procedure and training.

2. Infographic

The infographic is a visual aid that highlights key findings from some of the main themes of the survey, including use of force, community relations and how critical incidents like Ferguson and Dallas impact officers’ mental health.

3. Expert analysis

PoliceOne Contributor John Bostain looks into the issues revealed by the survey about police use of force, including officer reluctance, restraint and fear on the job. Bostain emphasizes that police officers will be safer by focusing on improved decision making and not on how to avoid using force. PoliceOne Editor-at-Large Doug Wyllie interviewed the LSU researchers about their interpretation of the survey findings, including the differences in opinion among supervisors and officers, female and male cops, as well as officers of different races. Wyllie also examines how the raw data appears to confirm the issue of de-policing and the general sentiment among cops that they are under attack.

High-profile events like Ferguson, Dallas and Baton Rouge are bound to impact officers in one way or another. It is incumbent on us to directly acknowledge and address these issues so we can move forward, and safeguard our officers and the communities they continue to nobly serve. All law enforcement officials should use these findings as a tool and discuss them among the command staff and line officers within their departments.

While continued research on the key issues — use of force, career satisfaction/morale and mental health — is needed, these findings provide a good baseline for the law enforcement profession to make informed and evidence-based decisions on policy, procedure and training.

About the author

Heather is the Senior Editor of PoliceOne and CorrectionsOne. She has been working with law enforcement and public safety for over 15 years. She also serves as volunteer as Executive Director at the International Public Safety Association, a 501(c)3 non-profit. Prior to joining Praetorian Digital, Heather worked on several national, state and local law enforcement projects. Heather earned her Master's degree from Arizona State University and her Bachelor's at Indiana University, both in Criminology. She currently calls Arizona home.

Ask questions or submit article ideas to Heather by contacting her here.

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