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Mindfulness, Self-Control, Implicit Bias, Race, Threat Perception Failure, and the Accidental Use of Deadly Force Against Off-Duty Police Officers

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Abstract

This study explores the impact of mindfulness, self-control, race, and implicit bias on threat perception failure-based shootings against ununiformed officers in a training simulation. A sample of 79 students were recruited to participate in a law enforcement active shooter training simulation. Participants completed a mindfulness non-reactivity measure, the Grasmick Self-control Scale, and a Weapons Implicit Attitudes tasks (IAT). Then, participants assumed the role of a police officer in a training scenario designed to provoke wrongful deadly force. After hearing gunshots, participants in this scenario were confronted with either a Black or White male portraying an off-duty police officer holding a badge and pointing a gun at another role player lying on the ground. The mindfulness non-reactivity scale significantly predicted not shooting the off-duty officer in the combined race analysis and the White officer only analysis. Implicit bias only predicted shooting the Black officer when mindfulness non-reactivity was included as a covariate. Race moderated the correlation between self-control and the decision to shoot. Implications and future directions are discussed.

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Morley, R.H., Bowman, S.W., Fulton, C.L. et al. Mindfulness, Self-Control, Implicit Bias, Race, Threat Perception Failure, and the Accidental Use of Deadly Force Against Off-Duty Police Officers. J Police Crim Psych 36, 86–95 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11896-019-09352-3

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