The impact of patrol staffing on police-citizen injuries and dispositions

Scott H. Decker, Allen E. Wagner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This article examines the impact of one- and two-officer patrol units on police-citizen interactions which resulted in the filing of citizen complaints against the officer(s). Specifically, it is hypothesized that there is no difference between one- and two-officer units (1) in the rate of injuries to officers in hostile police-citizen interactions, (2) in the number of citizen complainant injuries received in such interactions, (3) in the number of resisting arrest-type charges placed against the citizen, and (4) in the type of charge placed against the citizen in the incident. The data indicate that the impact of staffing is felr more by citizens than officers. When controlling for shift and dangerousness of precinct of occurrence, citizens were found to be more likely to be injured in hostile police-citizen encounters than the police, especially when two officers were present. Officers in two-officer units were more likely to arrest the citizen in the incident which precipitated the complaint and the arrest of that citizen was most likely to be for the more serious charge of assaulting an officer. The results suggest that lone officers resolve more disputes without resorting to formal outcomes. The implications of these findings for police patrol strategy are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)375-382
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Criminal Justice
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1982

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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