Police Misconduct


The current discourse around police misconduct often pivots on the question of whether such behaviors are driven by a few “bad apples” or larger systematic or institutional problems. The truth, as it is in so many instances, is likely somewhere in the middle. Whether criminal offending or corporate malfeasance, deviant behavior is a learned behavior and is influenced by the structure and content of one’s social networks. Police misconduct or abuse behavior is no exception and is, most likely, learned through informal relationships and interactions between officers.
This project will examine how the structure and composition of a “misconduct” network among more than 3,000 police officers in the Chicago Police Department influences whether or not officers are involved in a subsequent misconduct and even police-involved shooting. Using data on more than 56,000 citizen complaints against Chicago police officers, this project will examine how both individual officer characteristics as well as the composition of an officer’s network might influence patterns of misconduct. This project will also assess the utility of a networked understanding of police behavior and how it might be used for curbing such behaviors.