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112 Officer knowledge, training, and willingness to use extreme risk protection orders
  1. Veronica Pear1,
  2. Kyoko Peterson1,2,
  3. Alaina De Biasi1,
  4. Amanda Charbonneau3
  1. 1University of California, Davis, Sacramento, USA
  2. 2University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, USA
  3. 3RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, USA


Statement of Purpose Extreme risk protection order (ERPO) laws, or ‘red flag laws,’ seem to be effective at preventing firearm suicide, but slow uptake has limited their impact. As most ERPO petitioners are law enforcement officers, we sought to learn more about officer awareness of, attitudes toward, and willingness to use ERPOs.

Methods/Approach From April to August 2021, we conducted an online survey of active-duty law enforcement officers in ERPO states. We included 5 survey-embedded experiments to test whether characteristics of respondents (those subject to the order) influenced officer decision making. Analyses used descriptive statistics and Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney tests.

Results Survey participants (n=288) were mostly male (85%), non-Hispanic white (73%), and residents of California (53%), New York (14%), or Florida (11%). A plurality (45%) identified as Republicans. Eighty-six percent of officers had previously heard of ERPO laws and 41% had direct involvement with an ERPO case. Over half received ERPO training. Support for and willingness to use ERPOs was favorable overall, but varied substantially by political ideology, with self-identified conservatives having less favorable opinions of the law and being less willing to use it. Respondent characteristics did not influence willingness to use ERPOs. Officers were most likely to endorse using ERPOs in domestic violence scenarios (72–81%) and least willing in suicidal ideation scenarios (53–55%).

Conclusions Most officers in ERPO states have some knowledge of the law, but more training is needed, including training on the role of ERPOs in suicide prevention. It will be important for local leaders within police departments to ensure implementation of the law is not affected by personal political preferences.

Significance ERPOs will only be effective to the extent that they are implemented appropriately. Our findings provide insight into how those primarily responsible for implementation perceive the law and ways in which their training could be improved.

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