Demonstrating the Platform for Policing Research: Recruits

One of the core components of the policing platform project is new officers. From the time they enter the academy until they leave the force, recruits will take surveys, write in journals and be observed by researchers.

Surveys. Recruits will be surveyed at four points:

Wave 1: When they enter the academy. At the beginning of their training, recruits will complete a questionnaire about:

  1. Their personal background (i.e., family, schooling and employment).
  2. Attitudes and behavior related to police culture, ethics, discipline, management, community, youth, personal safety and other aspects of policing.
  3. Their reasons for becoming a police officer and expectations about their service and careers in law enforcement.

Wave 2: When they graduate from the academy. Recruits will complete another survey to gather views on the overall impact of their training. Questions about attitudes and behaviors related to police culture and community will be repeated for all waves of interviews.

Waves 3 and 4: When they complete six months and 18 months of field experience. Over time, recruits will be asked about their field experiences with residents, supervisors, field training officers and the police organization as a whole. They will also be asked about on-the-job stress. Waves 3 and 4 will also measure officers' self-ratings of encounters with residents on procedural justice [1] and social support dimensions.

At various points, the surveys will include hypothetical scenarios to (1) assess recruits' skills during police-resident encounters and (2) capture aspects of the police culture, such as integrity and discipline.

Online Journals. In addition to taking the surveys, new recruits will keep an online journal that chronicles key events, behaviors and perceptions regarding their job. The confidential online journal will capture short-term changes in feelings, attitudes, beliefs and behaviors; stressors in the work environment and coping mechanisms; and officers' behavior related to decisionmaking and discretion. The online journal will capture critical events in their career development.

Such online data collection will be encouraged as a cutting-edge method employed by learning organizations that listen to their employees and care about professional development.

The officers' journals will include structured questions to direct their attention to certain topics (e.g., ratings of their field training officers, job satisfaction and handling citizen contacts), but some open-ended items will be included to help researchers add or drop measures as new data reveal issues of interest or concerns.


[note 1] Procedural justice refers to the notion that processes are applied fairly and equally to everyone.

Date Created: March 16, 2010