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Unveiling the impacts of de-policing: A comprehensive study reveals new insights

Researchers shed light on the intricacies of law enforcement behavior and morale in the wake of significant societal and legal shifts

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In recent years, law enforcement agencies across the United States have navigated through tumultuous waters, marked by heightened scrutiny and significant shifts in operational norms. This complex landscape has given rise to a phenomenon known as de-policing, where officers may exhibit reluctance to engage proactively due to various external and internal pressures.

Doctoral candidate Jacob Foster from Arizona State University, alongside Dr. Michael Rossler at Illinois State University and Dr. Charles Scheer at the University of Southern Mississippi, embarked on a rigorous investigation into the nuances of de-policing. Their research, born out of the desire to empirically examine the anecdotal experiences surrounding modern law enforcement challenges, provides an empirical foundation to understand how external events like the Ferguson effect and the George Floyd incident, coupled with internal departmental dynamics, influence police behavior.

In this episode of the Policing Matters podcast, host Jim Dudley speaks with Foster, Rossler and Scheer about their findings, which were recently published in Police Practice and Research, and how they illuminate the complexities of policing in an era of unprecedented scrutiny.

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This episode of the Policing Matters Podcast is brought to you by Lexipol, the experts in policy, training, wellness support and grants assistance for first responders and government leaders. To learn more, visit

Resources mentioned during the show

Additional resources from our guests

About our guests

Jacob T. Foster is a doctoral student at the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University. He received both his B.S and M.S in Criminal Justice Sciences from Illinois State University. His research interests primarily consist of law enforcement training, police use of force and police proactivity.

Michael T. Rossler is an Associate Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice Sciences at Illinois State University. He completed his Ph.D. in from the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University. His primary research interests involve police-citizen encounters, police responsiveness, police strategies, and police organizational development. He is also the recent author of the book “Conservation Law Enforcement.”

Charles Scheer is an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at The University of Southern Mississippi. He earned his Ph.D. in from the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University. His research interests include police recruitment and retention strategies, civil liability and police recruit attitudes towards police careers.

Key takeaways

  1. The study explores the complex factors contributing to de-policing, offering a nuanced understanding beyond simplistic narratives.
  2. Researchers identify significant predictors of de-policing, including public scrutiny, liability concerns, and organizational fairness, underscoring the multifaceted challenges facing today’s law enforcement.
  3. The findings reveal varied responses among officers to recent high-profile incidents and legal changes, reflecting a profession at a crossroads.
  4. The discussion emphasizes the importance of leadership and policy in shaping proactive policing behaviors, suggesting areas for future improvement and research.
  5. Despite the challenges, the conversation also highlights a sense of resilience and adaptability among law enforcement professionals, pointing towards the potential for positive change and evolution within the field.

Questions for listeners to consider

  1. How can law enforcement agencies better support officers in navigating the challenges of heightened scrutiny and liability concerns?
  2. In what ways can the media portrayal of law enforcement be balanced to reflect the complexities of policing work?
  3. What role does organizational fairness and leadership play in mitigating the effects of de-policing?
  4. How can the findings of this study inform policy changes and training programs within law enforcement agencies?
  5. Considering the dynamic nature of policing, what future research topics are critical in understanding and addressing the phenomenon of de-policing?

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Policing Matters law enforcement podcast with host Jim Dudley features law enforcement and criminal justice experts discussing critical issues in policing