To Protect and also Serve: Emotional Intelligence in Police Officers
Escamilla, Justin H
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This project examined the potential for officer emotional intelligence (their ability to assess and manage emotions) to explain some of their attitudes, relationships, and behaviors related to procedural justice and emotional labor. First, several officer characteristics (age, gender, experience, and comfort interacting with strangers) were hypothesized to be related to three factors linked to emotional intelligence (EI) – officers’ emotional demeanor, emotional self-awareness, and emotional knowledge about others. Next, these factors were hypothesized to be related to officer attitudes about the use of force and the priority officers placed on acknowledging the experience of the driver during a traffic stop. Lastly, the factors were hypothesized to play a role in how favorably officers’ peers rated them and how empathetic or respectful community members perceived them to be. The data analyzed were originally gathered from surveys of over 1,000 police officers and several hundred community members. Structural equation modeling was utilized to examine each set of outcomes. Results showed some officer characteristics were significantly related to EI. Additionally, EI was partially related to attitudes toward using force and the reported priority of acknowledging a driver´s experience, but unrelated to peer or community perceptions. Implications for researching emotional intelligence in policing are discussed.