Organizational correlates of police deviance: A statewide analysis of misconduct in Arizona, 2000-2011

Jessica Huff, Michael White, Scott Decker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Purpose: Many examinations of police misconduct involve case study methodologies applied to a single agency, or a handful of agencies. Consequently, there is little evidence regarding the types of misconduct across agencies, or the impact of department-level characteristics on the nature and prevalence of officer deviance. The purpose of this paper is to address this research gap using statewide data of over 1,500 charges of police misconduct filed with the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board (AZPOST) from 2000 to 2011. Design/methodology/approach: This study examines variation in the prevalence and forms of misconduct across 100+ agencies based on agency type and size. Difference scores were calculated for every agency in the state to determine whether an agency’s level of misconduct was proportionate to the number of officers employed by that agency. AZPOST data were supplemented with Law Enforcement Management and Statistics data to identify organizational correlates of misconduct in agencies generating disproportionately low and high levels of misconduct. Findings: Results identify variation in officer misconduct across different types of agencies. Tribal agencies generally experience higher rates of domestic violence and drug/alcohol-related incidents. Smaller agencies have more misconduct allegations involving supervisors. Organizational characteristics including pre-hiring screening, accountability mechanisms and community relationships are associated with lower levels of agency misconduct. Originality/value: The use of AZPOST data enables a statewide examination of misconduct while accounting for organizational context. This study identifies organizational features that might serve to protect agencies against disproportionate rates of officer misbehavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)465-481
Number of pages17
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 26 2018


  • Police accountability
  • Police deviance
  • Police misconduct
  • Police organizations
  • Police oversight

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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