Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


International Crime and Justice

First Advisor's Name

Robert Peacock

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Carleen Vincent-Robinson

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Amy Hyman Gregory

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Jacqueline Evans

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member


law enforcement training, disability training, disability awareness

Date of Defense



There has been limited research conducted on disability-related training for law enforcement officers. Past researchers have either prioritized training specific to mental illness or evaluated curriculum content rather than training effectiveness. The present research focuses on predictors of officers’ self-reported confidence in their ability to handle interactions with disabled individuals. The study took place in Florida and included 204 police officers. The study’s findings showed that, despite a common belief of minimum disability training provided to police officers (Reaves, 2016), more than 35% (n = 71) of the officers surveyed reported receiving some disability training during the police academy and after graduation. Even so, more than 56% (n = 83) indicated that their training focused only on mental illness and believed that more disability related training would be beneficial to their careers. An analysis of the predictors of police confidence supported a role for training and experience in strengthening self-confidence in interacting with the disabled. The study found that disability awareness training is associated with greater officer confidence in their interactions with the disabled. Finally, the full regression model found that officers with police academy disability awareness training and on-duty experiences with disabled persons were more confident in their ability to handle the study’s hypothesized scenarios than those without such experiences. This finding suggests that experiential learning could be a valuable addition to formal education for law enforcement officers. Policy implications for law enforcement training are discussed.






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