Our Grants

The Structure of Officer-Involved Shootings: Investigating the Social Transmission of Firearm Use

Overview

This study will examine how officers' informal networks and working relationships shape behaviors and attitudes toward firearm use.

Status

Awarded

Purpose

This project seeks to determine whether the social structure of police networks enables or constrains the social transmission of officer-involved shootings.

Approach

This project will collect longitudinal network data from all sworn officers in one of the 50 largest police departments, to address the following objectives:

  • Analyze the social structure of a police department, and assess ethnographic claims that excessive force tends to cluster among subsets of tightly knit officers; and
  • Investigate whether interactions between officers promote the diffusion of behaviors and attitudes associated with officer-involved shootings to identify the exposure factors that both increase and mitigate the risk of involvement in firearm use behaviors.

Significance

Much ethnographic research documents the role formal and informal associations among officers play in influencing both individual actions and institutional culture. The current study will address the untested hypothesis that officers' networks enable or constrain the likelihood of firearm use, and seeks to provide actionable data to inform policy initiatives to reduce officer-involved shootings.

Investigator Bios

  • Marie Ouellet is an assistant professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Georgia State University. Her research focuses on criminal networks, and social influence mechanisms, with her most recent work examining the networks of police officers. Her peer-reviewed work has appeared in Criminology, Criminology & Public Policy, and Social Networks.
  • Dean Dabney is a professor and chair in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Georgia State University. He has extensive experience researching law enforcement organizational operations and culture, reflected by many articles, books, book chapters, and reports on these topics. He serves as the Department Director for the Atlanta Police Leadership Institute and Atlanta Crime Research Center. His recent work focuses on the distribution of gun violence within the city.
Grant Amount
$300,943
Award Type
Research
Organization
Georgia State University
Investigators
Marie Ouellet, assistant professor, Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, Georgia State University; and Dean Dabney, professor and chair, Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, Georgia State University.
Expected Completion Date
August 2022
Year Awarded
2020
Focus Areas
Officer-Involved Shootings