Date of Award

Fall 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


STEM Education & Professional Studies


Occupational and Technical Studies

Committee Director

Petros Katsioloudis

Committee Member

Jill Stefaniak

Committee Member

Angela Eckhoff


The purpose of this multi-methods study was to explore police use-of-force (UoF) instructors’ perceptions about cognitive readiness in the context of violent police-public encounters, examine how experience influences those perceptions, identify competencies of cognitive readiness deemed essential for preparation and response to violent encounters, and align those competencies deemed essential with current UoF training strategies. The results of the study suggest that UoF instructors generally feel that police officers are not adequately prepared for violent police-public encounters. They cited deficiencies in the range of tactics taught, the frequency with which UoF training is delivered, and obstacles such as: time, resources, repetition, motivation, and liability as overarching themes that prevent adequate training transfer and performance. In addition, confidence and adaptability converged as byproducts of experience to influence UoF instructors’ perceptions about their own preparation for violent police-public encounters. They acknowledged the power of emotion in UoF decision-making, but their training, experience, and confidence allows them to focus more on the outward emotional state of an aggressor instead of their own emotions. While they acknowledged the presence of negative stress within themselves during a violent encounter, in general, this stress does not cause paralysis in action. Of the a priori cognitive readiness competencies assessed, the study revealed situational awareness, problem-solving, adaptability, decision-making, confidence, and critical thinking as the highest converging competencies. As such, these competencies were identified as essential for preparation and response to violent encounters. Lastly, reality-based/scenario-based training was cited as the most effective training strategy to enhance officers’ preparation for violent encounters.


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