Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Criminal Justice


Maria (Maki) Haberfeld

Committee Members

Brian Lawton

Hung En Sung

Kevin Barrett

Subject Categories

Criminology and Criminal Justice


Police education, police training, police use of force, criminal justice degree


The objective of this study was to research the association between a police officer’s college education and the level of force a police officer uses to gain compliance when making an arrest. There is a strong agreement in existing literature that the college education of a police officer has positive effects upon police officer skill sets including the use of force. However, this study seeks to update existing literature as most studies are over a decade old, which is problematic due to the fact that they are outdated and may not represent the challenges in contemporary policing. This study collected self-reported survey data from 425 sworn law enforcement officers throughout six states. Unlike the sampling frames previously studied, the sample in this study consisted of sworn law enforcement officers from 143 individual police departments from different areas of the country. This study analyzed college degree levels and the number of college credits earned by a police officer through the use of Multinomial Logistic regressions and Poisson regressions. The tests showed that both police officer’s earned college degree level and earned college credits inversely impacted the level and frequency of force used in arrest situations. These relationships were statistically significant which reinforced previous findings of the benefits of a college education in policing and fulfills the need to provide updated and future research in this field. Other variables such as crime level encountered, officer opinions of college education and officer age, race and gender were also analyzed which had little or no statistically significant impact on the level of force used. The outcome of this study can potentially influence police administrators to consider college education as well as different degree levels as factors in police hiring practices.