Food for Thought: Police Violence – A Research Agenda

Posted: March 7, 2013 by Mike Larsen in Food for Thought

This unit is dedicated to the exploration of police brutality and the use of excessive force. We have approached this complex and diverse topic area from several angles – Van Maanen’s discussion of ‘street justice’, Klockars’ exploration of the ‘Dirty Harry Problem’, and the Braidwood Inquiry’s investigation into RCMP Taser use.

We do not, at present, have valid, reliable, and comprehensive data on police brutality in Canada. The absence of comparative data makes it difficult to identify trends and patterns, and to determine the scope of the problem. It also means that investigations into police brutality tend to focus on events, as opposed to systemic factors. Allegations regarding the problem of police brutality are too-easily dismissed as reflections of ‘one-off incidents’ and ‘bad apples’.

Food for Thought:

Put yourself in the position of a criminologist who is competing for a major research grant to explore the nature and prevalence of police brutality in British Columbia. You need to develop a research project that will allow you to effectively address your research question.

Write a short overview of a research design that would allow you to determine the nature and prevalence of police brutality in BC. Your post should be written as a ‘pitch’ (as in, I propose to …, my study will …).

It should:

  • Briefly identify and explain the phenomenon in question (police brutality)
  • Outline a program of research that will allow you to determine the nature and prevalence of police brutality in BC. How do you propose to ‘get at’ this phenomenon? What research methods and data sources will be consulted?
  • Conclude with a brief statement about why your project should receive funding.

Your post must be submitted by the end of Thursday, March 14.

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