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Did de‐escalation successfully reduce serious use of force in Camden County, New Jersey? A synthetic control analysis of force outcomes

Criminology & Public Policy

Published online on

Abstract

["\n\nResearch Summary\nDespite the widespread interest that de‐escalation training has attracted in law enforcement contexts over the past few years, we know little about its effectiveness in reducing use of force incidents. This study seeks to ascertain the effect of de‐escalation training on serious use of force events in Camden, a high‐crime and high‐poverty city in New Jersey. An analysis of individual officers suggested de‐escalation training had no significant effects on serious force, whereas a synthetic control analysis of the entire department suggested that de‐escalation training led to a 40% reduction in serious force events. It is suggested that spillover effects between trained and untrained officers may account for the discrepancy.\n\n\nPolicy Implications\nThis study offers evidence that de‐escalation training may be more effective at reducing police force than other measures that have been proposed in recent years, such as consent decrees, less lethal weapons, and body‐worn cameras. However, the unique environment in which the program was introduced—a high‐crime, high‐use of force jurisdiction that had previously dissolved and rebuilt its police force—suggests these encouraging results should be tempered with a good dose of caution.\n\n", "Criminology & Public Policy, EarlyView. "]