Dr. Anthony Pinizzotto, a forensic psychologist who has been a senior scientist at the FBI’s prestigious Behavioral Science Unit at Quantico, VA, has joined the Force Science Research Center, where initially he will help coordinate studies related to officer communications under high stress and to OIS investigations.
Well-known in law enforcement circles, Pinizzotto was lead investigator and co-author of 3 groundbreaking reports by the FBI regarding officers who’ve been murdered on duty and the criminals who killed them. The studies are: Killed in the Line of Duty, In the Line of Fire, and Violent Encounters, each involving 5 years of research. He retired from the Bureau earlier this year after 20 years’ service.
“Dr. Pinizzotto’s broad experience with the behaviors of officers and offenders and his dedication to research of the highest caliber will be invaluable to FSRC,” says Dr. Bill Lewinski, executive director of the Center, located at Minnesota State University-Mankato. “Law enforcement will benefit greatly from the unique insights he’ll bring to our projects.”
The psychologist’s first assignments will be to work on 2 new studies that are getting underway out of FSRC’s branch office in London.
Working with various police agencies in the United Kingdom, one project will be to work with Lewinski on seeking the most effective way to teach officers how to diffuse high-tension, high-threat encounters with hard-to-control subjects.
The other centers on developing a method for detecting evidence of inappropriate collaboration and coercion in officers’ written reports. “This relates to whether officers who’ve been involved in a shooting can be allowed to talk to each other about the event without negatively influencing each other’s reports,” Lewinski told Force Science News.
“Combining the expertise of researchers from a number of British Universities, social psychologists and computer scientists, the researchers hope to devise a method for measuring accuracy and error rates associated with conferring. We may then be able to test guidelines for helping officers write reports that are as valid as possible.”
In addition to his work with the FBI, Pinizzotto has served as a corrections counselor/investigator in Pennsylvania, a reserve officer and report-writing instructor with the Washington (DC) Metropolitan Police, a special deputy U.S. Marshal, a consultant and trainer for the U.S. Attorney General’s Firearm Interdiction Program, a developer and lecturer for a program designed to help assistant U.S. attorneys properly review OIS cases, and an adjunct professor of psychology at Georgetown University.
A recipient of the FBI Director’s Award for Distinguished Service to the Law Enforcement Community, he has consulted on forensic cases with police agencies throughout the U.S. and in Italy, Canada, Russia, Switzerland, Ireland and England.
One of Pinizzotto’s colleagues at the Behavioral Science Unit, Edward Davis, is also involved with FSRC. Until his recent retirement, Davis, a former police officer, was a criminal investigative instructor with the FBI. Last spring, he joined the faculty for FSRC’s first Force Science Certification Course, held in London.