Police culture and coercion

William Terrill, Eugene A. Paoline, Peter K. Manning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

227 Scopus citations


Researchers have long noted the link between police culture and coercion. To date, however, there have been no empirical studies of this relationship. Using data collected as part of a systematic social observation study of the police in Indianapolis, Indiana, and St. Petersburg, Florida, this research examines the relationship between traditional views of police culture - from an attitudinal perspective - and coercion - from a behavioral perspective. After developing a classification scheme of officers' outlooks in the context of police culture, we examine the extent to which officers' alignment with cultural attitudes translates into differences in coercive behavior. The findings indicate that those officers who closely embody the values of the police culture are more coercive compared with those that differentially align with the culture, suggesting that police use of force is a function of officers' varying attitudinal commitments to the traditional view of police culture. The implications of these findings for policy and future research are considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1003-1034
Number of pages32
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Attitudes and behaviors
  • Coercion
  • Culture
  • Force
  • Police

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law


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