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Ohio Police Behavior Study: An Assessment From the Officers

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 1996
In order to create a police-centered data base for the issue of police behaviors, and as a tool for professional development via its training implications, the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services administered the Police Behavior Study in 1993 to some 700 officers in more than 150 local police departments in the State, using a stratified random-sampling technique.

The officers were asked to rate the seriousness of and, where appropriate, sanctions for 35 behavioral scenarios. They were also asked to report whether and how many times they had observed 30 behaviors in fellow officers. A cohort of some 800 Ohio citizens was also surveyed for a comparison group of citizen ratings of various of police behaviors. The police behaviors rated as most serious by the officers were using illegal drugs on or off duty such that work performance is affected, committing perjury to avoid self-incrimination, lying to obtain a warrant or cover a mistake, the purchasing of stolen merchandise worth $50- $5,000, and false testimony in a case. Police behavior rated as "not very serious" included displaying a badge to avoid a traffic citation, using alcohol while working undercover to gain a suspect's trust, driving from 5 to 30 mph over the speed limit when there is no emergency, and lying to alter crime statistics. The behaviors of fellow officers most often observed by respondent officers included accepting free coffee or food from a restaurant, speeding when there was no emergency, and displaying a badge to avoid a traffic citation while off duty. Behaviors rarely observed were planting a weapon on a suspect, sexually harassing a female citizen while on duty, accepting payments to overlook illegal activity, and using more force than necessary to apprehend a suspect. Data are presented to compare the observations of Ohio officers with Illinois officers who completed a similar study. Also included are a profile of the survey officers, officers' assessment of the survey, and a list of the most recent research publications of the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services. Survey questions and answer tabulations are provided.

Date Published: February 1, 1996