Exploring Variation in Police Perceptions of De-Escalation: Do Officer Characteristics Matter?

Michael D. White, Victor Mora, Carlena Orosco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Though de-escalation has become popular in policing, there is very little research on the topic. We know virtually nothing about what it is, whether it works, or even how officers perceive de-escalation. The authors surveyed over 100 officers in the Tempe (AZ) Police Department regarding their perceptions of de-escalation, including tactics used to peacefully resolve potentially violent encounters, the frequency of use, and their perceptions of de-escalation training. We examine perceptions overall, as well as by officer race/ethnicity and sex. Findings suggest that officers view de-escalation through a lens defined by their authority and officer safety. They use certain tactics multiple times each shift. Officers are open to de-escalation training but are skeptical about its impact on citizen encounters. Lastly, minority and female officers use certain tactics more often than white male officers. The article concludes with a discussion of the implications for the larger debate on de-escalation in policing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)727-740
Number of pages14
JournalPolicing (Oxford)
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law


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