A study conducted at Iowa State University suggests a police officer’s ability to identify someone carrying a gun or bomb is only slightly better than chance. Lead author Dawn Sweet directs ISU’s Body Language and Facial Expressions Lab.
Sweet says police need more tools and evidence based training to identify someone might may be concealing a weapon. “It’s an inherently difficult task and we’re not giving it enough attention,” Sweet said.
Reading nonverbal communication is “context dependent,” according to Sweet. She’s now work to develop a standardized approach to evaluating behaviors that predict if someone is concealing a weapon or dangerous device, and therein poses a threat. “It’s our hope as we continue this line of research we’ll be able to ultimately deliver systematic, evidence-based training to law enforcement officers,” Sweet said. “Because ultimately, it’s not just the law enforcement officers who are going to benefit from that, but it’s us as a society.”
Sweet’s study is published in the journal Law and Human Behavior.
(Thanks to Sarah Boden, Iowa Public Radio)