May 2024

NBER Working Paper: Predicting Police Misconduct

Greg Stoddard Dylan Fitzpatrick Jens Ludwig

This paper outlines the results of research on over a decade of Chicago Police Department data that shows it is possible to predict risk of on-duty and off-duty misconduct, allowing police departments to prioritize training and supportive resources.

Whether police misconduct can be prevented depends partly on whether it can be predicted. We show police misconduct is partially predictable and that estimated misconduct risk is not simply an artifact of measurement error or a proxy for officer activity. We also show many officers at risk of on-duty misconduct have elevated off-duty risk too, suggesting a potential link between accountability and officer wellness. We show that targeting preventive interventions even with a simple prediction model – number of past complaints, which is not as predictive as machine learning but lower-cost to deploy – has marginal value of public funds of infinity.

Learn more about the study

Read a related policy brief

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