Evaluation of threat by police officers: Initial findings Conference Paper uri icon


  • Police officers’ threat perception of static images was examined using images reflecting the range of five threat categories on which police officers are trained. Thirteen experienced officers from a police departments in the southeastern United States participated in this study. Officers rated their perceived threat level for 110 images that were presented to them on a laptop computer. Each of these images was rated twice by each officer. Officers used all five categories to rate the stimuli, and their responses to the extremes (images rated as 1 or 5) were faster than responses to more ambiguous stimuli in the other categories. These results were generally consistent with predictions based on Fuzzy Signal Detection Theory. Further studies will evaluate performance with these images in the context of a signal detection task. Once fully developed, this tool could be used to evaluate new recruits’ decision-making process before given the green light to carry a badge. These assessments could also be used as a modified training tool for experienced officers if the stimuli were to be placed in a semi-immersive environment.

publication date

  • September 1, 2005