- The Oxford Handbooks in Criminology and Criminal Justice
- List of Contributors
- A Recent History of the Police
- Policing Urban Drug Markets
- The Politics of Policing
- Police Organizations and the Iron Cage of Rationality
- Problem-Oriented Policing: Principles, Practice, and Crime Prevention
- Order Maintenance Policing
- Community Policing
- Zero Tolerance and Policing
- Policing Vulnerable Populations
- Police Authority in Liberal-Consent Democracies: A Case for Anti-Authoritarian Cops
- Police Legitimacy
- Police Coercion
- Restraint and Technology: Exploring Police Use of the Taser through the Diffusion of Innovation Framework
- Police Misconduct
- Police Race Relations
- Race, Place, and Policing the Inner-City
- Racial Profiling
- Illegal Immigration and Local Policing
- Police Administrative Records as Social Science Data
- Using Community Surveys to Study Policing
- Systematic Social Observation of the Police
- Using Experimental Designs to Study Police Interventions
- Ethnographies of Policing
- Police Legitimacy in Action: Lessons for Theory and Policy
- Private Policing in Public Spaces
- The Policing of Space: New Realities, Old Dilemmas
- Policing in Central and Eastern Europe: Past, Present, and Future Prospects
- Local Police and the “War” on Terrorism
Abstract and Keywords
Systematic social observation (SSO) of the police involves in-person observation of police patrol officers as they perform their work in its natural setting, using probability sampling of observation units and standardized coding categories that render the observations systematic. SSO has a long and distinguished history as a police research methodology because it generates rich data that are in many respects superior to other forms of data, and it is adaptable to several different theoretical or analytical perspectives. The drawbacks of SSO have probably been overstated in some accounts and can be minimized when SSO is conducted properly. This essay reviews the history of SSO of police and the virtues and limitations of SSO data. SSO has promise for further illuminating police practice if future studies build on recent advances in the technique and developments in technology.
Robert E. Worden is an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Albany and the Director of the John F. Finn Institute for Public Safety.
Sarah J. McLean is Director of Research and Technical Assistance at the John F. Finn Institute for Public Safety.
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