One of the leading experts in police brutality is William Terrill, Associate Professor in the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University. He wrote a book, published in 2013, entitled Police Culture: Adapting to the Strains of the Job. The book details his findings after studying many American police forces, with an emphasis on their statistics on the use of force.
He discovered that there was a large disparity among cities in terms of the amount of times force was used and what type of force was used. Some of the lessons that he discovered:
- The use of force was higher in police forces where the rules for engaging force were looser. In other words, if every situation was decided on a “case by case basis”, higher levels of force were used.
- There was no distinction between female and male officers and their use of force.
- Police personnel tended to use force more often in poorer areas.
- The higher the level of education of the police officer, the lower their likelihood to use force.
- More experienced police officers used less force.
- The use of stun guns (Tasers) is complicated. Their use results in lesser injuries among the police but greater injuries among citizens.
The city of Detroit was not one of the communities studied by Terrill in his comparative work, although he has continued to do research with the Flint police force.
Although a number of Detroit police officers have been charged with excessive force and the city has been forced to pay for settlements, it is not among the forces with the highest numbers of cases of brutality or fatal shootings. That is not a source of comfort for those who feel that they or their family members have been treated roughly.