Situational Decision-Making: A Training to Improve Officer Decision-Making in High-Stakes Situations

Overview

In partnership with the Chicago Police Department, this project will develop and test a police training program to improve officer decision-making in high-stakes situations for the safety of officers and community members alike.

Grant Amount: $570,240

Organization: University of Chicago

Investigators: Oeindrila Dube, Philip K. Pearson Professor of Global Conflict Studies, University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy; Anuj Shah, associate professor of behavioral science, University of Chicago Booth School of Business

Expected Completion Date: mid-2021

Project Summary

Purpose

Develop and test a police training program to improve officer decision-making in high-stakes situations, and evaluate the program using a randomized control trial.

Approach

  • Design, pilot, and evaluate a training program that will teach police officers the cognitive skills needed to diagnose ambiguous, hard-to-read situations more actively and accurately and tailor their responses to the needs of the situations.
  • Use a randomized control trial design involving thousands of police officers.
  • Assign skills assessments to treatment and control group officers to determine whether and how they respond differently to decision-making exercises.
  • Evaluate the effects of the training program on officer decision-making and officer safety and assess effects on downstream outcomes such as citizen complaints, excessive uses of force, officer and subject injuries, and officer behavior as reflected in arrests made and summons issued.

Significance

Increase the safety of police officers and community members by training officers to process high-stakes situations more completely and accurately so that they make better decisions and reduce the extent of excessive uses of force including officer-involved shootings.

Investigator Bios

  • Oeindrila Dube is the Philip K. Pearson Professor of Global Conflict Studies at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. An economist and political scientist, Dr. Dube uses experimental and non-experimental methods to assess the causes of violence and crime in countries around the world. She has analyzed how changes in U.S. gun laws affect homicides across the border in Mexico and determined how economic shocks perpetuate insurgent violence in Colombia. She is also a research affiliate of the National Bureau of Economics, the Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development, and the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, where she co-directs the Crime and Violence Initiative.
  • Anuj Shah is an associate professor of behavioral science at University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Dr. Shah’s research uses psychology and behavioral science to examine social issues such as poverty, crime, and violence. He is a collaborator with other Crime Lab affiliates on recent studies of Youth Guidance’s Becoming a Man program in Chicago. His research has appeared in Science, Psychological Science, and Psychological Bulletin, among other journals.