Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Bill Buhrowm PsyD.

Second Advisor

Kathleen Gathercoal, PhD.

Third Advisor

Greg Stewart, MA


Police officers experience many difficult situations in their line of duty, but two situations stand out as particularly unsettling for police officers: when they interact with people who are (a) under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and when (b) people appear to be suffering from serious mental illness (Kaminski, DiGiovanni, & Downs, 2004). This study explores the impact of these conditions on whether or not police officers resort to using force within a Northwestern metropolitan police department. A set of archival data consisting of force incidents was divided into four subgroups depending on subject (suspect) substance use and mental illness status and coded based on subject threat, subject force, and officer force levels. After analysis, it is determined no significant differences exist between groups, indicating no relationship between subject substance use and mental illness status with police level of force. These findings suggest police officers use no more or less force when interacting with people under the influence of a substance or suffering from mental illness than officers do with people where these conditions are absent.