The potential for violence in arrests of persons with mental illness

Philip Mulvey, Michael White

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to determine whether police use of force and suspect resistance are more likely to occur in arrest encounters involving suspects with mental health problems. Design/methodology/approach: The study uses data from interviews with 942 individuals recently arrested by officers in more than a dozen different police departments in Maricopa County, Arizona in 2010. Both logistic and ordinal regression analyses are used to predict two models of suspect resistance (resistance in the current arrest, resistance in a previous police contact) and three models of police use of force (any force in the current arrest, ordinal measure of force in the current arrest, and any force in a previous contact). Findings: The results provide empirical support for a link between mental illness and increased resistance against the police. With regard to arrestee mental illness and use of force, the results are mostly consistent with prior research suggesting a null relationship, with an important caveat involving greater use of higher level, weapon force. Research limitations/implications: The study suffers from the traditional limitations associated with self-report data, and the generalizability of the findings beyond arrest encounters in Maricopa County is not known. The explanatory power of the multivariate models was relatively weak, suggesting a good degree of unexplained variance. Practical implications: The non-significant relationship between arrestee mental illness and use of force is consistent with efforts by police to improve their response in these complex encounters. The significant weapon-force finding may suggest that police respond to the affronts of mentally ill suspects differently than affronts from other suspects. The non-significance of key extra-legal factors suggests that police decisions to use force were not influenced by arrestee race/ethnicity, age, or social standing. Originality/value: Unlike previous studies, the current research uses self-reported measures of mental health problems. The current study also examines arrests from more than a dozen different police departments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)404-419
Number of pages16
JournalPolicing
Volume37
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014

Fingerprint

Police
Violence
mental illness
police
violence
human being
Weapons
weapon
Mental Health
mental health
Research
contact
legal factors
Mentally Ill Persons
Self Report
ethnicity
Logistic Models
logistics
Regression Analysis
Interviews

Keywords

  • Criminalization
  • Mental illness
  • Resistance
  • Use of force

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine

Cite this

The potential for violence in arrests of persons with mental illness. / Mulvey, Philip; White, Michael.

In: Policing, Vol. 37, No. 2, 2014, p. 404-419.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{603502f8c85746858652614ff302e24b,
title = "The potential for violence in arrests of persons with mental illness",
abstract = "Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to determine whether police use of force and suspect resistance are more likely to occur in arrest encounters involving suspects with mental health problems. Design/methodology/approach: The study uses data from interviews with 942 individuals recently arrested by officers in more than a dozen different police departments in Maricopa County, Arizona in 2010. Both logistic and ordinal regression analyses are used to predict two models of suspect resistance (resistance in the current arrest, resistance in a previous police contact) and three models of police use of force (any force in the current arrest, ordinal measure of force in the current arrest, and any force in a previous contact). Findings: The results provide empirical support for a link between mental illness and increased resistance against the police. With regard to arrestee mental illness and use of force, the results are mostly consistent with prior research suggesting a null relationship, with an important caveat involving greater use of higher level, weapon force. Research limitations/implications: The study suffers from the traditional limitations associated with self-report data, and the generalizability of the findings beyond arrest encounters in Maricopa County is not known. The explanatory power of the multivariate models was relatively weak, suggesting a good degree of unexplained variance. Practical implications: The non-significant relationship between arrestee mental illness and use of force is consistent with efforts by police to improve their response in these complex encounters. The significant weapon-force finding may suggest that police respond to the affronts of mentally ill suspects differently than affronts from other suspects. The non-significance of key extra-legal factors suggests that police decisions to use force were not influenced by arrestee race/ethnicity, age, or social standing. Originality/value: Unlike previous studies, the current research uses self-reported measures of mental health problems. The current study also examines arrests from more than a dozen different police departments.",
keywords = "Criminalization, Mental illness, Resistance, Use of force",
author = "Philip Mulvey and Michael White",
year = "2014",
doi = "10.1108/PIJPSM-07-2013-0076",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "37",
pages = "404--419",
journal = "Policing",
issn = "1363-951X",
publisher = "Emerald Group Publishing Ltd.",
number = "2",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - The potential for violence in arrests of persons with mental illness

AU - Mulvey, Philip

AU - White, Michael

PY - 2014

Y1 - 2014

N2 - Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to determine whether police use of force and suspect resistance are more likely to occur in arrest encounters involving suspects with mental health problems. Design/methodology/approach: The study uses data from interviews with 942 individuals recently arrested by officers in more than a dozen different police departments in Maricopa County, Arizona in 2010. Both logistic and ordinal regression analyses are used to predict two models of suspect resistance (resistance in the current arrest, resistance in a previous police contact) and three models of police use of force (any force in the current arrest, ordinal measure of force in the current arrest, and any force in a previous contact). Findings: The results provide empirical support for a link between mental illness and increased resistance against the police. With regard to arrestee mental illness and use of force, the results are mostly consistent with prior research suggesting a null relationship, with an important caveat involving greater use of higher level, weapon force. Research limitations/implications: The study suffers from the traditional limitations associated with self-report data, and the generalizability of the findings beyond arrest encounters in Maricopa County is not known. The explanatory power of the multivariate models was relatively weak, suggesting a good degree of unexplained variance. Practical implications: The non-significant relationship between arrestee mental illness and use of force is consistent with efforts by police to improve their response in these complex encounters. The significant weapon-force finding may suggest that police respond to the affronts of mentally ill suspects differently than affronts from other suspects. The non-significance of key extra-legal factors suggests that police decisions to use force were not influenced by arrestee race/ethnicity, age, or social standing. Originality/value: Unlike previous studies, the current research uses self-reported measures of mental health problems. The current study also examines arrests from more than a dozen different police departments.

AB - Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to determine whether police use of force and suspect resistance are more likely to occur in arrest encounters involving suspects with mental health problems. Design/methodology/approach: The study uses data from interviews with 942 individuals recently arrested by officers in more than a dozen different police departments in Maricopa County, Arizona in 2010. Both logistic and ordinal regression analyses are used to predict two models of suspect resistance (resistance in the current arrest, resistance in a previous police contact) and three models of police use of force (any force in the current arrest, ordinal measure of force in the current arrest, and any force in a previous contact). Findings: The results provide empirical support for a link between mental illness and increased resistance against the police. With regard to arrestee mental illness and use of force, the results are mostly consistent with prior research suggesting a null relationship, with an important caveat involving greater use of higher level, weapon force. Research limitations/implications: The study suffers from the traditional limitations associated with self-report data, and the generalizability of the findings beyond arrest encounters in Maricopa County is not known. The explanatory power of the multivariate models was relatively weak, suggesting a good degree of unexplained variance. Practical implications: The non-significant relationship between arrestee mental illness and use of force is consistent with efforts by police to improve their response in these complex encounters. The significant weapon-force finding may suggest that police respond to the affronts of mentally ill suspects differently than affronts from other suspects. The non-significance of key extra-legal factors suggests that police decisions to use force were not influenced by arrestee race/ethnicity, age, or social standing. Originality/value: Unlike previous studies, the current research uses self-reported measures of mental health problems. The current study also examines arrests from more than a dozen different police departments.

KW - Criminalization

KW - Mental illness

KW - Resistance

KW - Use of force

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84902490089&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84902490089&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1108/PIJPSM-07-2013-0076

DO - 10.1108/PIJPSM-07-2013-0076

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:84902490089

VL - 37

SP - 404

EP - 419

JO - Policing

JF - Policing

SN - 1363-951X

IS - 2

ER -