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Police Decision-Making Research Featured on the Today Show

The Today Show WSU Spokane
The Today Show WSU Spokane
Today Show Screen Shot


The Today Show visited our campus once to take a look at our research on distracted driving.

The popular morning show recently returned to take a look at our research on the decisions police officers have to make, sometimes life or death decisions made in a fraction of a second.

You can watch the feature here.

WSU Spokane Research Gaining Worldwide Attention

Lois James WSU Spokane

Lois James WSU Spokane

Lois James is a Research Assistant Professor in our Sleep and Performance Research Center. The Center and our Criminal Justice program have worked with the Spokane Police Department on a number of studies and trainings.

James conducted research last year that showed racial disparities in police confrontations. Her research showed that participants in the study hesitated longer to shoot when confronted with black suspects compared to white and hispanic suspects.

This research was timely, since the nation is currently in an ongoing debate regarding police shootings in the wake of the deadly shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.

As one might expect, this research has received considerable attention from around the world. Here’s a rundown of some of the coverage James’ research has garnered so far:

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CNN’s Don Lemon References WSU Spokane Research

Bryan Vila WSU Spokane

Bryan Vila WSU Spokane

Our research on police and deadly encounters has received attention in a number of places.

Dr. Lois James’ research shows that police officers hesitate longer when encountering black suspects in deadly situations than they do with white suspects.

Dr. Bryan Vila’s research on police fatigue and decision making shows that police officers have an extremely difficult job and was featured on Anderson Cooper 360.

Last night, CNN’s Don Lemon hosted a town hall called “Cops Under Fire” and referenced the research happening on our campus.

Watch the Video


WSU Spokane Criminal Justice Professor Gives TEDx Spokane Talk on Police Decision Making


Bryan Vila is a Criminal Justice professor and a researcher on our campus. His research on police work has received attention in a number of media outlets, including the New York Times, NPR and CNN.

Recently, Vila presented at TEDx Spokane, an event independent of TED Talks but with a similar mission: to share ideas.

Vila talked about the various factors that impact police officers’ decision making processes, including fatigue, too much work and too little sleep, distractions in the squad car and more. Vila attributes some of this to insufficient funding in many police departments around the country. Vila’s suggested solutions to these problems boil down to increasing staffing and improving how the challenges of shift work are managed.

Watch the presentation:

Fall Asleep Sooner by Avoiding Smartphones and Tablets

Do you use your smartphone or tablet just before you head to bed? If so, it could impact your sleep schedule each night.

So says a study performed for two KXLY TV reporters by our Sleep and Performance Research Center.

Our own Devon Grant administered the study. Her theory, which is supported from the study of the two KXLY reporters, says that people fall asleep sooner if they stay away from their smartphones and tablets for an hour before going to bed.

So if you want a better night of sleep, you might want to avoid that e-reader in bed.


Some recent media on police distractions and police shootings featured research from the WSU Spokane campus.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch had a long story on police officers in the wake of the Ferguson, Mo. riots asking for more officers due to fatigue, stress and scrutiny.

WSU Spokane researcher Lois James is quoted, and talks about her findings that show police officers hesitate longer when involved in a possibly deadly encounter with black suspects. James is part of WSU’s criminal justice program.

While the research is happening in Spokane, it’s reaching audiences all over the country.

KARE TV, a Minneapolis TV station, teamed up with Minneapolis Public Radio to investigate how police officers are often distracted while driving. The two media outlets’ investigation brought them to Bryan Vila, a criminal justice professor at WSU Spokane who has studied a number of things relating to police officer fatigue and distractions:

This shows how important the research on our campus is to the public, both near and far. Learn more about the criminal justice program at WSU Spokane.