Geoffrey Raymond and Nikki Jones, Department of Sociology, UC Santa Barbara
Kristin Precoda, SRI International
This talk reports some initial findings from an ongoing, large-scale observational study of policing practices in two major cities. Using a large database of video recordings of police-civilian encounters (drawn from two sources, dash mounted cameras in patrol cars and video recordings made by researchers) and research methods that have enhanced the delivery of healthcare (by improving communication between doctors and patients, see Mangione-Smith, et al., 2004; Heritage, et al., 2010) this project has three main goals: (i) to understand and describe basic aspects of the real-time organization of police-civilian encounters and the interactional dynamics that give rise to the use of force in them; (ii) to find and describe communication practices that police officers can use to promote cooperatively organized encounters with civilians (and quantify how effective these practices are in reducing the use of force), and (iii) to contribute to the curriculum that state and county agencies use to train police officers. In this presentation we will discuss contemporary studies of policing (Bittner, 1972; Bayley and Garofalo,1989; Skolnick and Fyfe, 1993, Goodwin, 1994; Terril, 2003; Terril and Reisig, 2003), describe the research methods used in the current study (conversation analysis, ethnographic observation and quantitative methods) and analyze a collection of video recordings to illustrate some of the basic patterns our research has uncovered. One promising finding suggests that whether and how police officers respond to the queries and complaints that civilians pose in an encounter dramatically shapes how those encounters unfold, with some methods of responding making the odds of a cooperatively organized encounter (i.e., in which officers do not use force) twenty times greater.