Aggression in policing: Utilizing scale development toward the measurement of police use of non-deadly physical force

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Dennis Stevens

Advisor Department

Criminal Justice


The purpose of the present study was to construct a behavioral rating/observational scale for the measurement of police use of non-deadly physical force. Previously published scales for the measurement of police use of non-deadly physical force are flawed. One, previous scales are based on an assessment of the "properness" of police use of force currently used by law enforcement, thus lacking a foundation in theory. Two, previous scales lack psychometric properties (e.g., validity, internal consistency, and reliability). The goal of the present study was to use well-established psychometric techniques to develop a suitable instrument for the idiographic measurement of police non-deadly physical force. Subject Matter Experts evaluated the clarity, relevancy, and feasibility of 71 theoretically based items and rated the force used by officers as depicted in 14 videos. Limitations regarding the representation of behaviors depicted in videos prohibited further scale development. Specifically, videos depicting police non-deadly physical force that was either inadequate or excessive were not sufficiently available to administer items to a developmental sample as proposed. Thus, results from this study represent an investigation into the feasibility for developing a behavior rating scale for police non-deadly physical force. This discussion includes analyses of statistical and procedural flaws, as well as recommendations for future improvements to adequately capture and measure the behavioral qualities of non-deadly physical force in policing.