What is it about?

Recent deadly police-citizen encounters have sparked renewed calls for better-educated U.S. police forces. But where's the evidence? To fill this critical research gap, we examined how officer education impacts police shootings, violent arrests, and physical altercations.

Featured Image

Why is it important?

Prior research suggests that college-educated officers are more effective at deescalating volatile situations. It appears that these officers' characteristics and approaches allow them to govern while minimizing the loss of life. Our research suggests these qualities' effects might emerge only during the most dangerous and fraught encounters. While more research is needed, our findings show that agencies that hire college-educated officers may see a payoff in reduced police shootings.


It was rewarding to conduct a rigorous study with such a wonderful team that returned favorable results with real-life implications. Beyond the findings, this is my first paper published from my dissertation that hopefully provided the groundwork for more stringent and innovative research in this area. Thanks to Drs. Richard Wright, Richard Rosenfeld, and William Sabol for their helpful insights.

Thaddeus Johnson
Georgia State University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: The college shield: Examining the role of officer education in violent police encounters., Psychology of Violence, July 2022, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/vio0000407.
You can read the full text:



The following have contributed to this page