Clemens Lorei, Chiara Kober, Silvia Oßwald-Meßner, Alex Bertrams & Chris Englert

Hessische Hochschule für öffentliches Management und Sicherheit, Hochschule für Polizei Baden-Württemberg, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt, Universität Bern

Police operational action and requirements for self-control:
Which everyday operational situations require self-control, when does self-control fail, and how can self-control be maintained?

Professional police behavior often requires the suppression of emotions and impulses. These self-control processes may fail in certain situations, which may be associated with altered communication, verbal attacks, or earlier use of direct coercion. As research in the police context has so far focused mainly on the relationship between self-control and the use of coercion, it is still unclear which tasks in everyday police life generally require self-control, when self-control fails to be exerted, and how police officers try to maintain self-control. This exploratory pilot study addresses these three questions by means of an online survey of 179 police officers. They were asked about situations in everyday police work in which they had to exercise self-control. Different aspects of these situations were analyzed and contrasted. It was found that everyday routine interventions with normal citizens were mentioned most frequently. Different strategies for self-control are used with varying effectiveness. It is concluded that, on the one hand, there is still extensive research to be done in this area and, on the other hand, the importance of self-control for everyday police work is emphasized.