The influence of "working rules" on police suspicion and discretionary decision making

Meghan Stroshine, Geoffrey Alpert, Roger Dunham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


This study examines the role of "working rules" that define what officers interpret as suspicious people, places, and situations. Data were drawn from observational studies of police decision making in Savannah, Georgia and Miami-Dade, Florida. Current theory and research on the use of police discretion and biased policing is focused on the decision to stop, search, or arrest a suspect. Only a few studies focus on processes through which police determine behaviors to be suspicious that influence them to initiate official police action. An analysis of the "working rules" used by officers uncovered 12 substantive categories. The article concludes with a discussion of how this information can be useful in formulating training for police departments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-337
Number of pages23
JournalPolice Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2008


  • Decision making
  • Police
  • Rules
  • Suspicion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Law


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