Interactive Police-Citizen Encounters that Result in Force

Geoffrey P. Alpert, Roger G. Dunham, John M. Macdonald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


The behavior of officers and suspects during encounters is influenced by the actions, comments, and demeanor of the other actor. The present study looks at the interactive context of police-citizen encounters that result in the use of force. The results of the study show that police-citizen encounters are not only interactive but also asymmetrical with respect to authority. Police use- offorce interactions with civilians are more likely to involve greater levels of force by the police relative to the level of suspect resistance when a suspect appears to have less authority relative to the police officer. During an encounter, police and citizens interpret and decide how to respond to each other. This interpretive process can shape the outcome of an encounter and is an important link to the understanding of police behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)475-488
Number of pages14
JournalPolice Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2004


  • police use of force
  • police-citizen encounters
  • police-citizen interactions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Interactive Police-Citizen Encounters that Result in Force'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this