Shooting Decisions by Police Firearms Officers

Lucy Mitchell, Rhona Flin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


This study is an investigation into whether briefing information, which was heard prior to seeing a firearms incident in a firearms training simulator, affected British police officers' decisions to shoot, as measured by their shooting behavior. Police authorized firearms officers (AFOs) heard either threat or neutral briefing information and then saw a “shoot” (suspect shot at AFO) or “no-shoot” (suspect surrendered without shooting) scenario. AFOs were tested in one of four conditions: threat briefing with shoot scenario, threat briefing with no-shoot scenario, neutral briefing with shoot scenario, or neutral briefing with no-shoot scenario. A postevent questionnaire and the General Decision Making Style (GDMS) questionnaire were completed by the AFOs. Those who had heard the neutral briefing felt more surprised when they saw the suspects than did those who had heard the threat briefing, regardless of which scenario they had seen. However, the briefing type did not affect the time taken to draw and aim the gun at the screen. No shots were fired in the no-shoot scenario, regardless of which briefing the AFOs had received. Differences in preferred decision style were not related to shooting decisions. The results suggest that the briefing information did not influence the AFOs'decisions to shoot, but they attended to cues in the scenario (not identified) and responded accordingly.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-390
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Cognitive Engineering and Decision Making
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 21 Dec 2007


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