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Adaptive flexibility: Examining the role of expertise in the decision making of authorized firearms officers during armed confrontation

Boulton, L and Cole, J (2016) Adaptive flexibility: Examining the role of expertise in the decision making of authorized firearms officers during armed confrontation. Journal of Cognitive Engineering and Decision Making, 10 (3). pp. 291-308. ISSN 1555-3434

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Identifying the cognitive processes underlying tactical decision making is vital for two purposes: (a) reducing risk through improved training and (b) facilitating the public's attitudes toward the legitimacy of the police and criminal justice system. Despite this, very little research has been conducted into British police decision making involving the use of firearms. This study begins to address this gap by examining the impact that expertise has on British police's use-of-force decisions during armed confrontations. To do so, the tactical decision-making processes of 12 expert specialized firearms officers and 11 novice authorized firearms officers during armed confrontations were compared through cognitive task analysis methods. Data were coded via categories derived from theory and patterns inductively emergent within the data. The results found expert specialized firearms officers to be more flexible in adaptive responding to situational changes, while novice authorized firearms officers reported a more sequential and linear process of tactical decision making. In identifying the key features of expertise within this environment ("adaptive flexibility"), this study has theoretical and practical implications for the acceleration of authorized firearms officers' expertise acquisition to bridge the existing gap resulting from a lack of available qualified operational force commanders. © 2016 Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The AAM is deposited under the above licence and any reuse is allowed in accordance with the terms outlined by the licence. To reuse the AAM for commercial purposes, permission should be sought by contacting permissions@emeraldinsight.com.
Uncontrolled Keywords: 1701 Psychology, 1702 Cognitive Sciences
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
Divisions: Justice Studies (from Sep 19)
Publisher: Sage Publications
Date Deposited: 28 Apr 2020 11:06
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2021 07:23
DOI or ID number: 10.1177/1555343416646684
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/12847
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