Does Discipline Decrease Police Misconduct? Evidence from Chicago Civilian Allegations
70 Pages Posted: 22 Sep 2020 Last revised: 24 May 2021
Date Written: August 7, 2020
Reformers are calling for greater oversight of police behavior, in part through enhanced use of civilian complaints. However, others counter that greater oversight could chill effective policing. We assess police officer response to administrative determinations of misconduct. Using Chicago data, we find strong evidence that a sustained allegation reduces that officer’s future misconduct. We find no evidence that this effect is driven by incapacitation, such as assignment to desk duty, or by officer disengagement. We conclude that our findings are most consistent with improved officer conduct, in part from oversight and officer concerns over promotion, salary, and desirable assignments.
Keywords: Police misconduct, deterrence, discipline
JEL Classification: M51, K42, J58
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation