Hot Temperatures, Aggression, and Death at the Hands of the Police: Evidence from the U.S.

36 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 2019 Last revised: 8 Jul 2020

See all articles by Sébastien Annan-Phan

Sébastien Annan-Phan

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics

Bocar A. Ba

University of Pennsylvania

Date Written: July 3, 2020

Abstract

We study the effect of temperature on police-involved civilian deaths in the U.S. from 2000 to 2016. We show that violent crimes and the number of officers assaulted or killed both increase with warmer days (>17C), indicating a greater personal danger on such days. Consistent with higher threat levels, we found suggestive evidence that fatal shootings similarly increased during
warmer days. However, accounting for a surge in officer-civilian interaction, we found no additional effect of high temperatures on fatal shootings, indicating a lack of behavioral or physiological response from the officers. Finally, our results for other causes of death show that during "extremely warm" days (>32C), the number of casualties associated with Taser use and physical restraint were significantly higher independently of increased interaction between officers and civilians. The results suggest a need to reevaluate the use of Tasers and techniques of physical restraint to prevent unintended deaths.

Suggested Citation

Annan-Phan, Sébastien and Ba, Bocar A., Hot Temperatures, Aggression, and Death at the Hands of the Police: Evidence from the U.S. (July 3, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3356045 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3356045

Sébastien Annan-Phan (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics ( email )

Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Bocar A. Ba

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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