The Impact of Higher Education on Police Officer Attitudes Regarding Abuse of Authority

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2008-04-22

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Abstract

This study examines whether officers who receive a college education (four-year degree) prior to entry into the police service have attitudes that are less supportive of the abuse of police authority. This research also explores whether level of higher education and the timing of degree completion alter this potential attitudinal impact of a bachelor's degree. Using data from a nationally representative survey sample, I find that officers with a pre-service bachelor's degree hold attitudes that are less supportive of abuse of authority. These effects remain regardless of when officers receive their degree and across varying levels of higher education (i.e. associate's degree, attending some college). Postsecondary education does not have a statistically significant impact on officer ratings of the seriousness of hypothetical abuse of authority scenarios. These findings suggest that higher education has some beneficial impacts for policing, although these benefits are not only associated with completing a four-year degree.

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