Network Position and Police Who Shoot

Linda Zhao, Andrew V. Papachristos*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This study applies the growing field of network science to explore whether police violence is associated with characteristics of an officer’s social networks and his or her placement within those networks. To do this, we re-create the network of police misconduct for the Chicago Police Department using more than 38,442 complaints filed against police officers between 2000 and 2003. Our statistical models reveal that officers who shoot at civilians are often “brokers” within the social networks of policing, occupying important positions between other actors in the network and often connecting otherwise disconnected parts of the social structure between other officers within larger networks of misconduct. This finding holds, even net measures of officer activity, career movement, and sociodemographic background. Our finding suggest that policies and interventions aimed at curbing police shootings should include not only individual assessments of risk but also an understanding of officers’ positions within larger social networks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-112
Number of pages24
JournalAnnals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • betweenness
  • brokerage
  • police
  • police misconduct
  • social networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)


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