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Police Quarterly


The power to use force is a defining characteristic of policing, one that is accompanied by a responsibility to exercise these powers in the circumstances deemed necessary. This study analyzes data from four policing agencies to predict the likelihood of an officer drawing and pointing their firearm at a use of force incident. Findings suggest that situational factors were important in influencing whether an officer may draw and point their firearm. However, a priming effect, in which officers were more likely to draw their firearms when dispatched to an incident, may also be present. The rate that officers drew and pointed their firearms varied between jurisdictions, as did the nature of the incidents. Caution should be exercised in generalizing the results of single-site studies on police use of force, or introducing research into policy beyond the jurisdiction in which it was performed.


This is the accepted manuscript of an article that is forthcoming in Police Quarterly on October 25, 2022 and is available at

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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