Course: Introduction / Policing
The San Diego Field Interrogation Study was an early use of scientific experiments to inform police practice.
The San Diego Field Interrogation Study was a pioneering experiment in the field of policing that aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of police field interrogations. The study was conducted in San Diego, California, in the early 1970s, and it was the first randomized experiment ever conducted in the field of policing.
The study was designed to test the common police practice of stopping and questioning individuals who were deemed suspicious. The researchers randomly assigned police officers to either the experimental group or the control group. The officers in the experimental group were trained to use a more systematic approach to field interrogations, including asking open-ended questions and taking detailed notes, while officers in the control group were instructed to continue with their usual practices.
The study found that the more systematic approach used by the officers in the experimental group resulted in a higher rate of valuable information obtained during field interrogations. The study also found that this more systematic approach did not have a negative effect on police officers’ ability to detect criminal activity or make arrests.
The San Diego Field Interrogation Study was a groundbreaking study because it demonstrated the value of using scientific methods to evaluate police practices. It showed that randomized experiments could be used to evaluate police practices in a way that was rigorous and unbiased, and it paved the way for future research in the field of policing.
In addition to its methodological contributions, the San Diego Field Interrogation Study also had practical implications for policing. The study suggested that police officers could benefit from training on how to conduct field interrogations in a more systematic and effective manner. This training could improve the quality of information obtained during these encounters, which could ultimately lead to better outcomes for both the police and the community.
The San Diego Field Interrogation Study is still cited today as an important example of how scientific methods can be used to evaluate police practices. It has inspired numerous other studies in the field of policing, and it has helped to shift the focus of police research from anecdotal evidence to rigorous scientific methods.
On This Site
[ Glossary ]
Last Modified: 04/10/2023