Reducing Threats and Violence Towards Law Enforcement Through Systematic Analysis of Conflict Behaviors (Hans Myhre Sunde)

What goes on before the conflict goes off? This project's aim is to understand the interpersonal dynamics of conflict when citizens meet law enforcement agents in daily-life encounters. The project is lead by P.I. Marie Rosenkrantz Lindegaard, and primarily conducted by Hans Myhre Sunde. Don Weenink and Lisa van Reemst are co-supervising. The project is funded by the Danish Working Environment Research Fund 

The project's main goal is to:

  1. Identify what types of situations, and citizen behavioral patterns law enforcement agents ought to be especially aware of, because they hold a heightened risk of violent escalation.
  2. Identify what behavioral patterns law enforcement use that both heighten and lower the risk of violent escalation.
  3. Based on the findings, develop a “first aid tool kit” of conflict resolution tool, with concrete examples of appropriate and inappropriate conflict resolution behavior

By using a mixed-methods design, the project analyzes qualitative interviews and CCTV video recordings of real-life law enforcement-citizen encounters. Taking a micro-sociological approach, the project intends to identify the situational and interpersonal factors of when conflicts escalate to violence - and when they do not. Then, the project will identify and discuss how certain behaviors can prevent violent escalation. 

Part one of the project consist of a literature review phase, and a systematic video observation and analysis of a sample of 78 real-life encounters between citizens and law enforcers in Amsterdam. We have developed a qualitatively driven ethogram that is being used for the systematic analysis. Here, we take on the concept of 'demeanor', the 'demeanor effect' and the 'demeanor hypothesis' from the field of police-citizen encounters. 
Based on this part, I have published two papers: one in Nordic Journal of Criminology (2022) and one in Policing and Society with Weenink and Lindegaard (2023). 

Part two of the project consist of a number of semi-structured qualitative interviews with police officers. Here, I have interviewed 7 Norwegian police officers about three specific encounters they have experienced in their working-life. The analysis focuses on providing in-depth descriptions of different behavioral modes (i.e., de-escalation strategies/techniques/tactics & de-escalation behaviors) the informants use when managing conflict. 

Part three of the project consist of a qualitative, sequence analysis of a sub-sample of conflictual encounters. In this paper, I collaborate with Lindegaard and Peter Eybjye-Ernst

Some key findings will be presented at a workshop in Copenhagen in 2023, funded by the Danish Crime Prevention Council