Use Of Force Perceptions & Skills Retention Studies Are Conference Topics

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Preview reports on Force Science research findings regarding the public’s perceptions of police use of force, the retention rates of physical skills training, and the nature of unintentional discharges were showcased recently at major professional conferences in California and Minnesota.

Thumbnail summaries:

Civilian beliefs about use of force by police are often shockingly far from reality, behavioral scientist Dr. Dawn O’Neill of the Force Science Institute’s research division explained in a presentation at the annual conference of the Society for Police & Criminal Psychology in San Diego.

Citing findings from a pilot survey of more than 540 young adults in five states, O’Neill said that those sampled:

  • believe officers use deadly force in nearly 20% of their encounters with civilians (Reality: The figure is actually less than 0.0037%);
  • believe LEOs receive more than 80 hours of training in communications and de-escalation at the academy level (Reality: On average, they get 36 hours)
  • believe the time between shots in a gunfight is about three seconds (Reality: It’s an average of 0.28 seconds);
  • believe police UOF is dramatically on the rise (Reality: The rate has been relatively steady—and very low—across recent years; for a more historical perspective, see “note” below).

“A lot of media coverage fails to focus on human factors and behavioral science elements of police use of force, so it’s likely that the public is not aware of such research, contributing to the widespread misconceptions,” O’Neill says.

Physical skills deteriorate fast without refresher training, another FSI scientist, Dr. John O’Neill, told an SPCP audience in a separate presentation.

Drawing on early findings from an ongoing multi-academy study, John O’Neill revealed that:

  • Within eight weeks of being taught important DT techniques, trainees on average experience a “significant decrease” in their ability to perform relatively “easily acquired” skills, such as baton strikes and mandibular-angle pressure point control;
  • With “more complex” skills, such as handcuffing and weapon retention, “significant decline” in performance occurs within just one to two weeks after initial instruction;
  • Thus, recruits’ proficiency in physical skills needed to control adversaries on the street may, in reality, be “diminished drastically” before they even leave the academy.

Fortunately, O’Neill explained, the skills retention can be markedly improved with some simple changes in teaching techniques.

The study shows significant gains in sustained proficiency at a high level of mastery by the use of regularly spaced “refresher/booster training sessions,” video modeling, and assigned “homework” practice, he said.

Force Science News will be reporting in depth on this groundbreaking research in future editions.

At the SPCP conference, research projects involving other Force Science affiliates—instructors Chris Lawrence and Dr. Chris Hall and Advanced Specialist graduate Simon Baldwin, a researcher/use-of-force analyst for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police—were also on the agenda.

Meanwhile, the Drs. O’Neill collaborated on a major “invited talk” on “Applications of Behavior Analysis in Law Enforcement” at a conference of the Minnesota Northland Assn. for Behavior Analysis at Bloomington, MN.

John O’Neill provided more details on the study of skills learning and retention and Dawn O’Neill described the study of unintentional discharges reported on in a previous FSN article.


From The Wall Street Journal, by columnist Jason L. Riley:

“[S]tatistics that are available suggest that police today use deadly force significantly less often than in the past. In New York City, home to the nation’s largest police force, officer-involved shootings have fallen by more than 90% since the early 1970s, and national trends have been similarly dramatic…. [A]ccording to figures from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate at which police kill blacks has fallen by 70% since the late 1960s.

“An increase in press coverage of police shootings isn’t the same thing as an increase in police shootings.”

Leave a Reply


  • Privacy Policy

Privacy Policy

Effective date: January 06, 2019

Force Science Institute, Ltd. (“us”, “we”, or “our”) operates the https://www.forcescience.org/ website (hereinafter referred to as the “Service”).

This page informs you of our policies regarding the collection, use, and disclosure of personal data when you use our Service and the choices you have associated with that data. Our Privacy Policy for Force Science Institute, Ltd. is based on the Privacy Policy Template from Privacy Policies.

We use your data to provide and improve the Service. By using the Service, you agree to the collection and use of information in accordance with this policy. Unless otherwise defined in this Privacy Policy, the terms used in this Privacy Policy have the same meanings as in our Terms and Conditions, accessible from https://www.forcescience.org/

Information Collection And Use

We collect several different types of information for various purposes to provide and improve our Service to you.

Types of Data Collected

Personal Data

While using our Service, we may ask you to provide us with certain personally identifiable information that can be used to contact or identify you (“Personal Data”). Personally identifiable information may include, but is not limited to:

  • Email address
  • First name and last name
  • Phone number
  • Address, State, Province, ZIP/Postal code, City
  • Cookies and Usage Data

Usage Data

We may also collect information on how the Service is accessed and used (“Usage Data”). This Usage Data may include information such as your computer’s Internet Protocol address (e.g. IP address), browser type, browser version, the pages of our Service that you visit, the time and date of your visit, the time spent on those pages, unique device identifiers and other diagnostic data.

Tracking & Cookies Data

We use cookies and similar tracking technologies to track the activity on our Service and hold certain information.

Cookies are files with small amount of data which may include an anonymous unique identifier. Cookies are sent to your browser from a website and stored on your device. Tracking technologies also used are beacons, tags, and scripts to collect and track information and to improve and analyze our Service.

You can instruct your browser to refuse all cookies or to indicate when a cookie is being sent. However, if you do not accept cookies, you may not be able to use some portions of our Service. You can learn more how to manage cookies in the Browser Cookies Guide.

Examples of Cookies we use:

  • Session Cookies. We use Session Cookies to operate our Service.
  • Preference Cookies. We use Preference Cookies to remember your preferences and various settings.
  • Security Cookies. We use Security Cookies for security purposes.

Use of Data

Force Science Institute, Ltd. uses the collected data for various purposes:

  • To provide and maintain the Service
  • To notify you about changes to our Service
  • To allow you to participate in interactive features of our Service when you choose to do so
  • To provide customer care and support
  • To provide analysis or valuable information so that we can improve the Service
  • To monitor the usage of the Service
  • To detect, prevent and address technical issues

Transfer Of Data

Your information, including Personal Data, may be transferred to — and maintained on — computers located outside of your state, province, country or other governmental jurisdiction where the data protection laws may differ than those from your jurisdiction.

If you are located outside United States and choose to provide information to us, please note that we transfer the data, including Personal Data, to United States and process it there.

Your consent to this Privacy Policy followed by your submission of such information represents your agreement to that transfer.

Force Science Institute, Ltd. will take all steps reasonably necessary to ensure that your data is treated securely and in accordance with this Privacy Policy and no transfer of your Personal Data will take place to an organization or a country unless there are adequate controls in place including the security of your data and other personal information.

Disclosure Of Data

Legal Requirements

Force Science Institute, Ltd. may disclose your Personal Data in the good faith belief that such action is necessary to:

  • To comply with a legal obligation
  • To protect and defend the rights or property of Force Science Institute, Ltd.
  • To prevent or investigate possible wrongdoing in connection with the Service
  • To protect the personal safety of users of the Service or the public
  • To protect against legal liability

Security Of Data

The security of your data is important to us, but remember that no method of transmission over the Internet, or method of electronic storage is 100% secure. While we strive to use commercially acceptable means to protect your Personal Data, we cannot guarantee its absolute security.

Service Providers

We may employ third party companies and individuals to facilitate our Service (“Service Providers”), to provide the Service on our behalf, to perform Service-related services or to assist us in analyzing how our Service is used.

These third parties have access to your Personal Data only to perform these tasks on our behalf and are obligated not to disclose or use it for any other purpose.


We may use third-party Service Providers to monitor and analyze the use of our Service.

  • Google AnalyticsGoogle Analytics is a web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic. Google uses the data collected to track and monitor the use of our Service. This data is shared with other Google services. Google may use the collected data to contextualize and personalize the ads of its own advertising network.You can opt-out of having made your activity on the Service available to Google Analytics by installing the Google Analytics opt-out browser add-on. The add-on prevents the Google Analytics JavaScript (ga.js, analytics.js, and dc.js) from sharing information with Google Analytics about visits activity.For more information on the privacy practices of Google, please visit the Google Privacy & Terms web page: https://policies.google.com/privacy?hl=en

Links To Other Sites

Our Service may contain links to other sites that are not operated by us. If you click on a third party link, you will be directed to that third party’s site. We strongly advise you to review the Privacy Policy of every site you visit.

We have no control over and assume no responsibility for the content, privacy policies or practices of any third party sites or services.

Children’s Privacy

Our Service does not address anyone under the age of 18 (“Children”).

We do not knowingly collect personally identifiable information from anyone under the age of 18. If you are a parent or guardian and you are aware that your Children has provided us with Personal Data, please contact us. If we become aware that we have collected Personal Data from children without verification of parental consent, we take steps to remove that information from our servers.

Changes To This Privacy Policy

We may update our Privacy Policy from time to time. We will notify you of any changes by posting the new Privacy Policy on this page.

We will let you know via email and/or a prominent notice on our Service, prior to the change becoming effective and update the “effective date” at the top of this Privacy Policy.

You are advised to review this Privacy Policy periodically for any changes. Changes to this Privacy Policy are effective when they are posted on this page.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about this Privacy Policy, please contact us:

  • By email: support@forcescience.org
  • By visiting this page on our website: https://www.forcescience.org/contact
  • By phone number: 866-683-1944
  • By mail: Force Science Institute, Ltd.