Good Cop, Bad Cop: Using Civilian Allegations to Predict Police Misconduct

64 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2016 Last revised: 5 Aug 2018

Date Written: November 28, 2016


In response to high-profile cases of police misconduct, reformers are calling for greater use of civilian allegations in identifying potential problem officers. This paper applies an Empirical Bayes framework to data on civilian allegations and civil rights litigation in Chicago to assess the predictive value of civilian allegations for serious future misconduct. We find a strong relationship between allegations and future civil rights litigation, especially for the very worst officers. The worst one percent of officers, as measured by civilian allegations, generate almost five times the number of payouts and over four times the total damage payouts in civil rights litigation. These findings suggest that intervention efforts could be fruitfully concentrated among a relatively small group.

Keywords: Policing, Personnel Economics, Police Misconduct, Civil Rights, Civil Rights Litigation, Public Finance

JEL Classification: H11, H75, H76, J4, K14, K42, M12, K10

Suggested Citation

Rozema, Kyle and Schanzenbach, Max Matthew, Good Cop, Bad Cop: Using Civilian Allegations to Predict Police Misconduct (November 28, 2016). Available at SSRN: or

Kyle Rozema

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law ( email )

Campus Box 1120
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States

Max Matthew Schanzenbach (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

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