Officer Perceptions and Decision-making in Discretionary Patrol Practices within a Hot Spots Environment Applying Expectancy Motivation Theory

Michael Brown

Major Professor: Stephen Mastrofski, PhD, Department of Criminology, Law and Society

Committee Members: Christopher Koper, James Willis, William Terrill

Enterprise Hall, #318
December 05, 2018, 01:30 PM to 03:30 PM


This dissertation describes a study of what motivates officers to perform hot spots policing.  The study applied a model involving expectancy motivation theory to determine if the key elements of the theory – expectancy, capability, opportunity, and/or reward- could be useful tools in identifying what motivates officers to do hot spots policing.  The study involved the administration of a survey to a sample of officers from the Nashville and Roanoke County Police Departments.  The survey asked questions related to the elements of expectancy motivation theory and these responses were used in the model with output measures to determine if any of the theory elements were predictors.

The expectancy theory model as used in this study was an acceptable means of assessing some motivational factors in hot spots policing. The results did have some interesting observations concerning the theory elements.  For example, expectation, opportunity, and reward did emerge as moderate and somewhat consistent predictors but not in every case and not always in a direction that was expected.  Capability did not surface as a consistent predictor and information derived from this study may suggest that the participating officers believed they have the necessary skills and tools to perform this type of law enforcement activity.  This dissertation discusses these and other observations in the data and their implications for law enforcement agencies engaging in hot spots policing.  It also makes recommendations on approaches that can be used in future studies as to what motivates officers to perform hot spots policing.