Exploring the Link Between Violent Crime Workload and Officer-Involved Shootings of Unarmed Individuals*


  • Dara Zwemer


The present author created a measure of officer workload in the U.S. and determined whether this measure predicted lethal officer-involved shootings (OISs) of unarmed individuals. Seventy-six OISs from the year 2016 were analyzed using archival data. Data were collected regarding population size, number of officers, and violent crime statistics for each city and state in which a lethal OIS of an unarmed decedent occurred. The present author hypothesized that states with more officer-involved shootings of unarmed individuals would have higher officer workloads than states with fewer shootings, and that officer workload would be higher in cities where shootings occurred, compared to those cities’ state-level measures. Workload comparisons between states were not significant; however, city to state comparisons revealed meaningful workload differences. Specifically, cities with fatal OISs of unarmed decedents had higher officer workloads than the state in which the cities were located. Future research that includes data beyond 2016 could allow one to predict cities that are at risk for lethal OISs and offer evidence-based insights into methods designed to minimize the number of these events.

*Winner of the Dean’s Distinguished Essay Award