Supervisory influences on officers' perceptions of less lethal force policy: A multilevel analysis

Jason Robert Ingram, Robert R. Weidner, Eugene A.Paoline III, William Terrill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of sergeants' less lethal force policy perceptions on subordinate officers' policy perceptions. Sergeants are a critical level of supervision in police departments with respect to policy administration, particularly in regard to the use of force. Little empirical research, however, has been conducted on either officer policy perceptions or this aspect of the supervisory role. Design/methodology/approach: Surveys of 765 patrol officers and 146 patrol sergeants served as the data source. Multilevel modeling procedures were used to test for supervisory influences on officer force policy perceptions while controlling for relevant officer-level variables. Additional analyses were conducted to examine potential moderating effects for this sergeant-officer attitudinal relationship. Findings: Findings revealed that sergeant policy perceptions, views of top management, and their level of support had a significant impact on officers' force policy perceptions. Furthermore, post hoc analyses revealed that sergeant support moderated the sergeant-officer force policy perception relationship. Research limitations/implications: The results indicate that officers' force policy perceptions are associated with the attitudinal dispositions of sergeants. Future work could expand the focus on administrative attitudinal outcomes beyond less lethal force policies as well as other perceptions of the work environment. Practical implications: For police leaders, the findings illustrate the need to pay attention to mid-management levels and the organizational climate, as negative orientations can impact additional domains (i.e. policies and procedures) and other organizational members (i.e. subordinates). Originality/value: The study adds to the limited body of research on two accountability mechanisms of departments: administrative rulemaking and frontline supervision.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)355-372
Number of pages18
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Frontline supervision
  • Less lethal force
  • Officer attitudes
  • Policy
  • Sergeants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Public Administration
  • Law


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