Date of Award

Summer 8-2018

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Criminal Justice


Criminal Justice, Forensic Science, and Security

Committee Chair

Philip E. Carlan

Committee Chair Department

Criminal Justice

Committee Member 2

Lisa S. Nored

Committee Member 2 Department

Criminal Justice

Committee Member 3

Charles L. Scheer

Committee Member 3 Department

Criminal Justice


Police studies have well developed a demonstrative framework for detailing risks which generate financially-detrimental civil litigation – particularly regarding 42 U.S.C. §1983. Conversely, though, police studies have given little attention to the often-used but differentially-trained reserve police officer. Primarily replicating the methodologies of Kappeler, Kappeler, and del Carmen (1993) and Ross (2000), this descriptive study sought to fill this void via a manifest content approach to purposively select a sample of Section 1983 cases decided by U.S. District Courts over a 16-year period (2001-2016) to determine: (1) if significant liability was generated by reserve officers, (2) the main basis for such claims, (3) the rate of plaintiff success, and (4) the average monetary award granted to successful plaintiffs. Although reserve police did not generate significant Section 1983 liability in the 30 cases reviewed in this study, data did identify failure to train as the most asserted basis for those claims. Moreover, an abysmally-low rate of plaintiff success made the calculation of a reliable average monetary award unattainable. Notwithstanding the methodological challenges which surfaced in this study, its findings did produce a series policy recommendations, while also providing advice to researchers who wish to continue an examination of the potential (and actual) Section 1983 liability associated with the use of reserve police officers.