Police education, experience, and the use of force

Eugene A. Paoline, William Terrill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

210 Scopus citations


Police researchers have devoted a considerable amount of empirical attention to testing the impact college education has on police performance. The counterargument to the education debate is that experience, in learning the police craft, is what contributes to differences in performance. The current study adds to both lines of research by examining the impact of education and experience on one of the core features of the police role: the use of coercion. The findings indicate that varying levels of education and experience are related to differences in the use of coercion in encounters with citizens. Encounters involving officers with any college education result in significantly less verbal force compared to those with a high school education. However, only those encounters involving officers with a 4-year degree result in significantly less physical force. Finally, encounters involving officers with greater experience result in less verbal and physical force.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-196
Number of pages18
JournalCriminal Justice and Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Coercion
  • College education
  • Experience
  • Police
  • Use of force

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • General Psychology
  • Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Police education, experience, and the use of force'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this