Law enforcement and wrongful arrests with endogenously (in)competent officers

Ajit Mishra, Andrew Samuel

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Abstract

Economic intuition suggests that enforcement errors incentivize crimes, therefore officers must be penalized for committing such errors. Legal scholars argue that if penalties for errors are severe, officers may become timid while policing (thereby encouraging crime). We evaluate these arguments in a model where officers invest in competence. Competence increases the officer's ability to identify criminals. Low sanctions for errors encourages bold policing by officers but may still raise the equilibrium level of crime because it also discourages investments in competence. Granting immunity to only competent officers (“qualified immunity”) reduces both errors and crimes when competence is observable. (JEL K4, K42, L5).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1417-1436
Number of pages20
JournalEconomic Inquiry
Volume56
Issue number2
Early online date4 Dec 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Economics and Econometrics

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