An audit experiment to investigate the “war on cops”: a research note


Objectives: This study examines whether former police officers are stigmatized in the labor market, particularly following social unrest from lethal police violence. Methods: We conduct an experimental audit study, both before and after heightened unrest from police violence. For service-related job openings, we compare the likelihood of getting an affirmative response from a prospective employer to a job application from a fictitious former police officer (the treatment condition) to the response to one of two control conditions: a former firefighter or a former code enforcement officer. Results: We do not find evidence that former police officers are discriminated against in the labor market. This finding holds in periods characterized by relatively little social unrest due to police violence as well as periods of heightened protest activity. Conclusions: At least with respect to the labor market for certain service-related professions, former police officers do not appear tainted by any stigma associated with their prior profession.

Journal of Experimental Criminology