Officer Friendly in a Digital World – Effect of Digital Technologies on Escalation

Jasmin Haunschild
Technische Universität Darmstadt

Wissenschaft und Technik für Frieden und Sicherheit (PEASEC)

Recent studies show that around 80% of Germans perceive a brutalization of society. Indeed, 26% of respondents had witnessed the obstruction, abuse or an attack against a state official, with 73% of incidents reportedly targeted at police personnel. 69% of civil servants report having been victims of an attack. Data from the German federal police agency (BKA) also show significant differences between federal states in crime against police officers. At the same time, studies also find numerous cases of perceived excessive use of force applied predominantly at big events, particularly against left-leaning individuals at demonstrations.
Many questions arise: Which groups perceive each other to be threatening in which citizen-police encounters? How can the differences at the federal level be explained? We suggest inter-group trust, mediated by the use, knowledge about und visibility of technology as an explanation for violent escalation.
We present results from a representative German survey on threat perception, perception of police-used technology and experiences with police-citizens confrontation. We infer implications for technology design and technology use by the police that foster inter-group trust and reduce escalation in citizen-police encounters.