Considering objective and subjective measures for police use of force evaluation

Paula M. Di Nota, Jennifer F. Chan, Juha Matti Huhta, Judith P. Andersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


In spite of significant interest in the application of police use of force (UOF) from organisa-tions, researchers, and the general public, there remains no industry standard for how police UOF is trained, and by extension, evaluated. While certain UOF behaviours can be objectively measured (e.g., correct shoot/no shoot decision making (DM), shot accuracy), the subjective evaluation of many UOF skills (e.g., situation awareness, SA) falls to the discretion of individual instructors. The aim of the current brief communication is to consider the operationalisation of essential UOF behaviours as objective and subjective measures, respectively. Using longitudinal data from a sample of Canadian police officers (n = 57) evaluated during UOF training scenarios, we discuss how objective and subjective measures reflect changes in officer performance over time. Objective lethal force DM was measured as a binary ‘correct–incorrect’ outcome and subjective SA was measured on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from ‘unacceptable’ to ‘exceptional’. Subjective evaluation of SA demonstrated significant changes over time, while DM remained relatively high and stable. Given the practical and professional implications of UOF, we recommend that a combination of objective and subjective measures is systematically implemented at all stages of police UOF training and evaluation (i.e., basic, advanced, in-service).

Original languageEnglish
Article number5351
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2021
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Assessment
  • Decision-making
  • Evaluation
  • Objective measures
  • Police
  • Situation awareness
  • Subjective measures
  • Use of force

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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