Wondering how likely a police officer is to use excessive force? One way to find out is just to look at the other officers that he or she works with.
According to a new study, which focused on officers in Chicago but could apply all over the United States, the behavior of one officer drastically influences the behavior of others. According to researchers, officers who work with other officers who have a history of misconduct accusations are then “more likely to emulate that behavior.”
There are a few potential takeaways here. One is that one officer with a personality that pushes them toward the use of excessive force could then make an entire department more likely to face these accusations and violate citizens’ rights. That’s problematic on many levels, including the fact that it breaks down the relationship between the police force and the residents they are supposed to serve and protect.
Another takeaway is that it appears that peer pressure is hard at work in the police departments of America. Similar studies of criminal behavior have found that peer pressure often influences people — especially teens — to carry out crimes that they may not have committed on their own. In the same way, police officers may use excessive force when pressured or influenced by other officers, even if they would not have done that on their own.
This study paints a picture of why some of these incidents take place and put people at risk. If your rights have been violated in any way, make sure you know what legal options you have.