Sociology Policing
by
Michael Sierra-Arévalo
  • LAST MODIFIED: 25 October 2018
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756384-0213

Introduction

Policing refers to the profession and practice of maintaining social order and enforcing the law through the street-level prevention, detection, and investigation of crime. As society’s most visible and contacted legal agents, police officers are empowered by a governmental body with authority to enforce laws and distribute coercive force to achieve their goals. Today, research on policing covers the practices and effects of police in countries across the globe, though academic research predominantly focuses on policing in the United States, the United Kingdom, and other Western nations. Though this entry focuses on policing research in the United States, insights from this literature can be and are frequently applied to the study of police in other contexts. Following an overview of resources that cover the historical development of modern policing, this entry moves to discuss foundational research that investigates the social function of the police (what role do police serve in society?) and is followed by a section on their occupational role (what do police do in the course of their work?). Closely linked to this research on the function and environment of the police, the next section covers research that describes the norms, values, and attitudes that make up police culture. The following section covers research on police decision-making in the context of stops, searches, and arrest, with special attention to the factors that influence those behaviors. Given the centrality of force to the police role, two sections attend to the highly consequential decision to use of force; the first of these looks at force writ large, while the second focuses specifically on the use of lethal force. Following these section on police force, the section on police misconduct and its control provides readings that describe various facets of police misconduct and strategies for reducing its prevalence. Turning from research that seeks to explain police behavior, the following section discusses research on the effectiveness of police activities in reducing crime, disorder, and the fear of crime, followed by a section dedicated to procedural justice and its effects on police legitimacy and legal cynicism. The final sections of this overview provides a primer for research on contemporary issues in policing, including police and immigration, police militarization, and Big Data technology in policing.

The History and Development of Policing

These references provide a variety of perspectives on the history of policing, varying in the scope and focus of their analysis. Uchida 2011 is a broad historical overview that extends from before the 1st century through the 1990s, covering both the path to modern police and changes since. Though the author does not extend his historical analysis as far back as Uchida, Silver 1967 contextualizes changes in US policing with an account of changes in English police and English society more broadly, and Monkkonen 1992 attends to the role of urbanization and economic change in the development of police forces in the United States. Kelling and Moore 1988 provides a concise and highly accessible summary of major changes in the structure and strategies of police organizations in the United States throughout the 20th century. Walker 1977 provides a thorough discussion of the police professionalization movement between the late 19th and mid-20th century, and Walker and Archbold 2013 extends this analysis in its description of changes in the regulation and supervision of police since the mid-20th century. Willis 2014 provides a wonderful distillation of changes to policing strategy and accountability from the 1960s to today, paying particular attention to changes aimed at enhancing police legitimacy and addressing challenges posed by terrorism in the wake of September 11, 2001. For a more complete reading list, see the Oxford Bibliographies article “History of Policing.”

  • Kelling, G. L., & Moore, M. H. (1988). The evolving strategy of policing. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice.

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    The authors provide a historical perspective on the development of US policing through what they term the political, reform, and community problem solving eras that span the time period between the late-19th century and the 1980s. For each era they detail the state of police legitimacy and authorization, the police function, organizational design, external relationships with the public, management practices, prevailing programs and technologies, and measured outcomes used by police.

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    • Monkkonen, E. H. 1992. History of urban police. Crime and Justice 15:547–580.

      DOI: 10.1086/449201Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      This piece begins with a summary of Monkkonen’s book-length study of the development of police between 1860 and 1920 and their role in the provision of “urban services” and then covers the historical development of police as employers, police and organized labor, police reform, and federal–local policy issues.

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      • Silver, A. 1967. The demand for order in a civil society. In The police: Six sociological essays. Edited by D. J. Bordua, 1–24. New York: Wiley.

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        Silver discusses the advent of the modern, uniformed police department as a new answer to public unrest and the changing economic and social relations of the 19th and 20th centuries. As opposed to the military, modern police are a diffuse, daily, and specialized instantiation of political authority that contribute to social cohesion.

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        • Uchida, C. D. 2011. The development of the American police: An historical overview. In Critical issues in policing: Contemporary readings. Edited by R. G. Dunham and G. P. Alpert, 14–30. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland.

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          This sweeping historical summary provides a broad overview of the historical roots and subsequent development of US policing from 900 BCE to the end of the 20th century. Its breadth prevents it from diving too deeply on any particular historical period, but its careful citation of major works throughout this expansive period provides a good resource for guiding further reading.

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          • Walker, S. 1977. A critical history of police reform: The emergence of professionalism. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.

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            This text focuses specifically on the intertwined histories of police reform and professionalization. Walker’s account begins with a description of the role and function of police in the 19th century, moves to the rise of professionalization in the early 20th century and the new role of police in social welfare, and finishes with discussion of policing of reform movement, race riots, and the “war on crime” between 1919 and 1940.

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            • Walker, S. E., and C. A. Archbold. 2013. The new world of police accountability. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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              In Chapter 2, Walker and Archibold give an overview of what Walker 1977 covers in great detail, then move on to describe new changes in regulation and police accountability, including critical incident policies (e.g., lethal force incidents, pursuits), citizen complaints and complaint investigation, early intervention systems, external and internal departmental reviews, and new surveillance technologies.

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              • Willis, J. J. 2014. A recent history of the police. In The Oxford handbook of police and policing. Edited by M. D. Reisig and R. J. Kane, 3–14. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                Willis summarizes major changes to the policing profession and the social context in which policing happens over the past thirty years. The chapter discusses major strategic innovations (e.g., broken windows policing, hot-spots policing, community policing), efforts to enhance police accountability and legitimacy, and how US policing has changed in response to the terror attacks of September 11.

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                The Social Function of Police

                This research investigates the social function of police, that is, the purpose of the police and the place of the police as an institution in society writ large. Chief among the former is Bittner 1970, who defines police by their authority to distribute the coercive force that underlies their ability to accomplish their varied professional tasks. Banton 1964 examines how variation in the social position of police can inform social organization more broadly as well as affect police behavior. Manning 1977 provides a nuanced sociological account of policing as drama and highlights the contradiction of the image that police portray and the reality of their work. Goldstein 1977 emphasizes the tension between the values of a free, democratic society and the coercive powers of police. Bayley 1996 begins from the premise that police are ineffective at actually influencing levels of crime directly and suggests potential reformulations of policing to address its shortcomings. Most recently, Ericson and Haggerty 1997 conceptualizes the police as information brokers that interact with other social institutions in a society focused on the measurement and mitigation of risk. Reiner 2010—now in its fourth edition—takes a more general approach and explores how history, media, politics, and law affect the development of the character and function of the police.

                • Banton, Michael. 1964. The policeman in the community. New York: Basic Books.

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                  Comparing Scottish, British, and US police, Banton conceptualizes police as an institution of social control that arose because of decreasing social integration. Banton posits that variation in the social position of police—their segregation or integration into the broader community—is instructive for understanding the social organization of the places police operate.

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                  • Bayley, D. H. 1996. Police for the future. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                    Drawing on research in Australia, Canada, the United States, Japan, and Britain, Bayley’s argument begins with a simple contention: police are not good at preventing crime. His sprawling analysis suggests a variety of reformulations to the police role and function to bring policing more in line with its purported goals and areas of professional dominion.

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                    • Bittner, E. 1970. The functions of the police in modern society: A review of background factors, current practices, and possible role models. Chevy Chase, MD: National Institute of Mental Health, Center for Studies of Crime and Delinquency.

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                      Bittner forwards his famous thesis: “The role of the police is best understood as a mechanism for the distribution of non-negotiably coercive force employed in accordance with the dictates of an intuitive grasp of situational exigencies” (p. 46). The authority of police to use force if the situation calls for it thus underlies their ability to solve the array of problems they face, even if the use of force is in actuality quite rare.

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                      • Ericson, R. V., and K. D. Haggerty. 1997. Policing the risk society. Oxford: Clarendon.

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                        In their study of Canadian police, Ericson and Haggerty argue police function as gatherers and disseminators of information on risk. Police monitor risk to fulfill their own goals but also to meet external demands for risk information from other social institutions (e.g., insurance companies, hospitals, banks). This is a particularly useful text given recent developments in mass surveillance and predictive policing (see Contemporary Issues in Policing).

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                        • Goldstein, Herman. 1977. Policing a free society. Cambridge, MA: Ballinger.

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                          Goldstein’s analysis homes in on the seeming contradiction between democratic society and the necessity of police that preserve order and safeguard rights through stops, arrests, and force. Goldstein’s conceives of police an agency of municipal government and underscores their many nonenforcement goals as well as the centrality of discretion in their work.

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                          • Manning, P. K. 1977. Police work: The social organization of policing. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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                            Manning draws on Goffman’s dramaturgical perspective to explore policing as symbolism. He describes how the mandate of crime control in US policing creates tensions born of enforcing the law while also preserving individual liberty, as well as how police portray a mythical public image of efficiency and effectiveness in an attempt to reconcile the reality of their work with this impossible mandate.

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                            • Reiner, Robert. 2010. The politics of the police. 4th ed. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

                              DOI: 10.1093/he/9780199283392.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                              Reiner does not provide a grand theory of policing but instead is an excellent generalist account of the British police that includes analysis of the historical success and failure of police legitimation, the changing role of the media in the definition and legitimation of the police, and the development of police governance and accountability.

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                              The Occupational Role of Police

                              This section focuses on the practical question of what police do in their work and covers descriptions of policing in different material and historical contexts. Banton 1964 (also cited under the Social Function of Police) describes police work in the United Kingdom and the United States and suggests that variation in the social position of police vis-á-vis the public affects officer behavior. Bittner 1967 follows up on Banton’s concept of peacekeeping and describes how officers skillfully keep the peace on skid row, Reiss 1975 uses systematic observation to document what kinds of calls officers respond to and how they resolve them, and Rubinstein 1993 describes in wonderful detail the daily life of officers in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Moskos 2009 provides a contemporary account of routine police activity shaped by the war on drugs, and Stuart 2016 updates classical accounts of order maintenance policing among the homeless.

                              • Banton, Michael. 1964. The policeman in the community. New York: Basic Books.

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                                This cross-national comparison of police in Britain, Scotland, and the United States provides the now taken-for-granted distinction between keeping the peace and enforcing the law. The multicountry scope of this book also provides useful insights into distinct policing contexts, such as US officers’ exceptional preoccupation with violence and firearms, and how differences in the social isolation of police affect how they go about their work.

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                                • Bittner, Egon. 1967. The police on skid-row: A study of peace keeping. American Sociological Review 32.5: 699–715.

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                                  Bittner provides a deep dive on Banton’s concept of peacekeeping among the residents of skid row. Bittner details the “craft” of responding to the unique features of the residents and environment of skid-row to maintain order and highlights the importance of discretion in the varied activities that comprise police work.

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                                  • Bittner, Egon. 1974. Florence Nightingale in pursuit of Willie Sutton: A theory of the police. In The potential for reform of criminal justice. Vol. 3. Edited by H. Jacob, 11–44. Beverly Hills, CA: SAGE.

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                                    A distillation of Bittner’s core contributions in Bittner 1970 (see the Social Function of Police) and Bittner 1967. This piece further highlights that much of what constitutes police work is unrelated to the actual enforcement of law or use of forceful coercion. Despite this, police minimize how much their work parallels that of nurses or social workers and instead emphasize their role as crime fighters.

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                                    • Moskos, Peter. 2009. Cop in the hood: My year policing Baltimore’s eastern district. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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                                      Drawing on fieldwork in Baltimore, Moskos provides a contemporary account of productivity-driven policing in the shadow of the war on drugs. Moskos pays special attention to variation among officers in their view of the morality and efficacy of the war on drugs, the role of discretion in low-level drug enforcement, and the negative consequences of the 911 system and efficiency-based police metrics based on response to calls for service.

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                                      • Reiss, Albert J. 1975. The police and the public. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

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                                        Reiss’s study of policing three cities (Chicago, Boston, and Washington, DC) is one of the most ambitious to date. Combining systematic observation of police–civilian encounters with field notes, Reiss provides a nuanced and rigorous account of the activities and attitudes of police officers and notes the crucial role that citizens play in contacting the police (i.e., most crime is not detected by police) and cooperating with them to resolve problems.

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                                        • Rubinstein, Jonathan. 1993. City police. 7th print. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

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                                          Originally published in 1973, Rubinstein’s account of life on patrol the late 1960s and early 1970s Philadelphia gives excellent detail on the tools and techniques of patrol work that was increasingly defined by the patrol car, radio, and centralized dispatch. He also provides an early account of the negative externalities of chasing “productivity,” as well as how information is both an individual resource and driver of in-group solidarity.

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                                          • Stuart, Forrest. 2016. Down, out, and under arrest: Policing and everyday life in skid row. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

                                            DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226370958.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                            Stuart’s ethnography of policing and the poor on Los Angeles’s Skid Row advances the concept of “therapeutic policing.” This policing paradigm is a shift from exclusively punitive policies to a mode of policing in which police “improve” the poor by forcing a choice between incarceration and social service programs that they perceive can properly reintegrate the homeless into society. Stuart also describes how residents develop “cop wisdom” to navigate the street and avoid legal entanglements.

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                                            Police Culture

                                            This collection of research explores police culture—the norms, values, and attitudes—that are both outcomes and determinants of police socialization and the realities of police work. Crank 2004, Paoline 2003, and Loftus 2010 give broad overviews of extant research on police culture that serves as an excellent distillation of a wide and—as the authors point out—sometimes amorphous research tradition. Among the classic works cited and discussed by these scholars, Wilson’s classic study of culture (Wilson 1968) examines variation across police organizations, Skolnick 1966 and Westley 1970 both describe a more general police culture born of the condition of police work, and Muir 1977 describes variation in policing styles among patrol officers. Van Maanen 1974 provides a rare, longitudinal view of how recruits are socialized into the police culture over time. Van Maanen 1978 builds on earlier work to elucidate how the demands and culture of police work shape how police perceive and categorize the citizens they interact with on the street.

                                            • Crank, John P. 2004. Understanding police culture. 2d ed. Cincinnati, OH: Routledge.

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                                              A broad and engaging summary of the myriad facets of police culture. The book is organized into four sections with a total of twenty-six chapters, each chapter organized around themes such as force, guns, masculinity, bullshit, and death. This books is well-suited for orienting oneself to police culture research or for use in an introductory policing class.

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                                              • Loftus, Bethan. 2010. Police occupational culture: Classic themes, altered times. Policing and Society 20.1: 1–20.

                                                DOI: 10.1080/10439460903281547Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                A concise use of ethnographic observations of British police to show how, despite marked changes in some aspects of policing, some features of police culture are remarkably consistent over time. Loftus suggests this is because the demands and constraints of the police role have not changed markedly over time, and long-standing descriptions of police culture still hold analytic value today.

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                                                • Muir, William K. 1977. Police: Street corner politicians. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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                                                  Muir—a political scientist—provides a typology of patrol officers with special attention to the role of power in human interaction. Muir posits four types of officers: professional, reciprocator, enforcer, and avoider. These types vary based on (i) officers’ willingness to use force to achieve just outcomes and (ii) officers’ view of humanity as either complex and interdependent or simple and composed of morally opposed groups.

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                                                  • Paoline, Eugene A. 2003. Taking stock: Toward a richer understanding of police culture. Journal of Criminal Justice 31:199–214.

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                                                    Paoline summarizes and critiques the “monolithic” conceptualization of police culture and contrasts it with research that describes variation in culture that can, for example, lead to different policing “styles.” He also advances a “filter” model of culture that reconciles monolithic and individual-level culture and that suggests that macro-level occupational culture is mediated by police organizations and then through ranks or work groups, down to individual officers.

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                                                    • Skolnick, Jerome H. 1966. Justice without trial: Law enforcement in democratic society. New York: Wiley.

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                                                      Skonick’s ethnographic study of the Westville Police Department discusses the “working personality” of the police and posits that danger, authority, and efficiency are a police officer’s most salient concerns. Skolnick also pays marked attention to vice policing and the use of informants in the perpetual balancing act of efficiency and justice given the constraints of a democratic system and limited resources.

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                                                      • Van Maanen, John. 1974. Working the street: A developmental view of police behavior. In The potential for reform of criminal justice. Edited by H. Jacob, 83–130. Beverly Hills, CA: SAGE.

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                                                        Van Maanen provides a longitudinal account of the socialization process of police officers from the police academy through their first few years on the street. Because he follows officers over time, Van Maanen is able to trace the shift from academy to street socialization and highlight how organizational processes and the work environment of the street influence police culture and action.

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                                                        • Van Maanen, John. 1978. The asshole. In Policing: A View from the street. Edited by P. K. Manning and J. Van Maanen, 221–237. New York: Random House.

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                                                          This chapter describes three perceptual categories that police officers apply to those they encounter in the course of their work: “suspicious persons,” “assholes,” and “know nothings.” These categories, which depend on the context of an interaction and the behavior of the individual being contacted, provide a heuristic for officers’ subsequently behavior as well as a window into how police officers view themselves, the public, and the social order.

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                                                          • Westley, William A. 1970. Violence and the police: A sociological study of law, custom, and morality. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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                                                            Westley’s study of police describes how police use violence to effect arrests, to protect themselves from a hostile public, and to maintain or reclaim the respect they believe is their right. Westley’s insights into the cultural emphasis on crime fighting and secrecy, though not published in book form until 1970, stem from dissertation research in the mid-20th century and predate those of other scholars discussed in this section.

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                                                            • Wilson, James Q. 1968. Varieties of police behavior: The management of law and order in eight communities. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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                                                              In his seminal study of eight policing organizations, Wilson describes three styles of policing: watchman, legalistic, and service. Wilson discusses how the contours of local politics, community characteristics, and police administration structure how police officers view and carry out the order maintenance and law enforcement activities that comprise their work.

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                                                              Police Discretion and Decision-Making

                                                              Any discussion of police decision-making must recognize that police officers exercise a great deal of discretion in how—and even if—they use their authority and tools to enforce the law. Goldstein 1960 provides an analysis of street-level discretion and its effects on police (in)action; also see Bittner 1967 (cited under the Occupational Role of Police). Brown 1988 provides observational evidence as to how and why discretion is practiced as it is. Reiss 1975 uses systematic observation of officers in three cities to catalogue how often police engage in various behaviors (e.g., arrests, force) and under what circumstances, and Black 1980 describes how police action is structured by the relative status of victims and suspects. Klinger 2004 reviews environmental and organizational factors that affect police response. Of particular concern in police decision-making is the effect of suspect characteristics—namely, race/ethnicity—that can lead to profiling and inequitable treatment. Kochel, et al. 2011 focuses on officers’ arrest decisions and provides a meta-analysis of the effect of suspect race on arrest decisions, specifically. Turning to pedestrian stops and searches, Alpert, et al. 2005 examines the determinants of police suspicion and the decision to search suspects, and Epp, et al. 2014 investigates disparities in who is subject to routine and investigatory traffic stops. In the context of car stops, Carroll and Gonzalez 2014 attends to factors influencing frisks and searches after traffic stops, and Paoline and Terrill 2005 considers the role of police culture in these decisions.

                                                              • Alpert, Geoffrey P., John M. MacDonald, and Roger G. Dunham. 2005. Police suspicion and discretionary decision making during citizen stops. Criminology 43.2: 407–434.

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                                                                The mixed-method analysis of officer behavior in Savannah, Georgia, finds that suspect race increased officers’ nonbehavioral suspicion but did not affect the likelihood of a suspect being stopped, nor did the racial composition of the area. The authors note that nonbehavioral suspicion was more likely if both officer and suspect were black and least likely if both were white.

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                                                                • Black, Donald J. 1980. The manners and customs of the police. New York: Academic Press.

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                                                                  A student of Reiss (see Reiss 1975), Black analyzes police behavior from the perspective that police are an instantiation of law. His analysis focuses on how office behavior is structured by the relative position of individuals in “social space” that includes the dimensions of status, culture, organizational membership, and other individual characteristics. Black also emphasizes the crucial role of citizen discretion in mobilizing police and shaping police decisions.

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                                                                  • Brown, Michael K. 1988. Working the street: Police discretion and the dilemmas of reform. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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                                                                    Brown draws on observations of police officers in three California cities to describe the practice of police discretion in the 1970s. His training as a political scientist shines through in his attention to the relationships between this street-level discretion, the police organization, and broader political pressures to control the police that, as he points out, actually results in less oversight and control of officer’s decision-making.

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                                                                    • Carroll, Leo, and M. Lilliana Gonzalez. 2014. Out of place: Racial stereotypes and the ecology of frisks and searches following traffic stops. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency 51.5: 559–584.

                                                                      DOI: 10.1177/0022427814523788Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                      Carroll and Gonzalez analyze traffic stops made by the Rhode Island State Police to explore discretionary decisions after a stop has been made. They find that black drivers are more likely to be frisked and searched than white drivers, that the disparity is greater for frisks than searches, and only frisks are affected by neighborhood racial composition. There is no race effect on the likelihood of a search producing contraband.

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                                                                      • Epp, Charles R., Steven Maynard-Moody, and Donald P. Haider-Markel. 2014. Pulled over: How police stops define race and citizenship. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

                                                                        DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226114040.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                        This book provides quantitative and qualitative evidence of racial inequality in car stops. The authors distinguish routine car stops from investigatory stops and show that investigatory stops disproportionately target black drivers. The authors describe how investigatory stops communicate to black drivers their diminished social status and deteriorate trust in police and situate their findings within a structural framework of inequality instead of one based on individual-level discrimination.

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                                                                        • Goldstein, Joseph. 1960. Police discretion not to invoke the criminal process: Low-visibility decisions in the administration of justice. Yale Law Journal 69.4: 543–594.

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                                                                          This article provides a thorough description of what police discretion entails and why it is it is necessary to the functioning of the police department even if, theoretically, the organization is committed to “full enforcement” of the law. Goldstein’s analysis draws on data provided by the American Bar Foundation that detail officers’ decision to not enforce violations of law related to narcotics, assaults, and gambling (see also Goldstein 1977, cited under the Social Function of Police).

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                                                                          • Klinger, David A. 2004. Environment and organization: Reviving a perspective on the police. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 593.1: 119–136.

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                                                                            Klinger reviews past work on the organizational (i.e., characteristics of the police department) and environmental (e.g., local politics, crime rates, demographics) determinants of police behavior. As the review points out, there is a need to integrate these research streams and see how micro-level factors (e.g., suspect/officer characteristics) interact with higher-level organizational and environmental characteristics to affect police behavior.

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                                                                            • Kochel, Tammy Rinehart, David B. Wilson, and Stephen D. Mastrofski. 2011. Effect of suspect race on officers’ arrest decisions. Criminology 49.2: 473–512.

                                                                              DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-9125.2011.00230.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                              In addition to reviewing past literature on the various factors that influence the decision to arrest, this meta-analysis examines results from forty reports that draw on twenty-seven data sets to estimate the effect on suspect race on arrest. The authors find a consistent racial effect, with non-white suspects being more likely than whites to be arrested even with variation in research method and a variety of statistical controls.

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                                                                              • Paoline, Eugene A., III, and William Terrill. 2005. The impact of police culture on traffic stop searches: An analysis of attitudes and behavior. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies and Management 28:455–472.

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                                                                                Unlike the other studies in this section, Paoline and Terrill assess the role of police culture on decision-making during traffic stops. Regression analysis of survey and observational data finds that officers who more closely align with “traditional” police culture (e.g., crime fighter orientation, distrust of citizens) are more likely to search suspects. Additionally, young, poor, male, and intoxicated suspects were more likely to be searched.

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                                                                                • Reiss, Albert J. 1975. The police and the public. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

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                                                                                  Reiss analyzes systematic observations of police officers in Chicago, Boston, and Washington, DC, to ascertain how often and under what circumstances they do (or do not) make arrests or use force. Of particular interest in Reiss’s encounter-based analysis is discussion of discretionary justice and how citizen disrespect increases the likelihood of coercive police action.

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                                                                                  Use of Force

                                                                                  Scholars have long noted that the use of force is defining feature of the police role (see Bittner 1970, cited under the Social Function of Police). Accordingly, research examines the use and abuse of force by police officers and, similar to research on officers’ decisions to stop, search, and arrest (see Police Discretion and Decision-Making), is particularly attentive to inequalities in the use of force based on suspect characteristics such as race/ethnicity. Alpert and Dunham 2004 provides a broad overview of the study of police force, including issues of definition, measurement, and interpretation, and Klahm, et al. 2014 focuses on persistent inconsistencies in the conceptualization and measurement of force in policing research. Terrill and Mastrofski 2002 examines situational, suspect, and officer characteristics that affect nonlethal force that ranges from verbal force to impact methods (e.g., strikes, batons), Paoline, et al. 2018 provides a more current analysis of force use that accounts for developments such as the conducted energy weapon (commonly referred to as the TASER®), and Legewie 2016 uses stop-and-frisk data from New York City to examine how local events such as violence against officers affects police use of force against civilians. See the Oxford Bibliographies article “Police Use of Force” for an expansive reading list on police use of force that covers topics ranging from definitions and data sources on police force to research on different types of force.

                                                                                  • Alpert, Geoffrey P., and Roger G. Dunham, eds. 2004. Understanding police use of force: Officers, suspects, and reciprocity. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                                    This text reviews past work and details persistent issues related to the definition and measurement of police force. In addition, the authors use control-of-persons reports from Miami–Dade County and Prince George’s County, Maryland, to examine how and when officers use force, and discuss how a range of suspect-, officer-, and situational-level variables influence the use of force.

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                                                                                    • Brandl, Steven G., and Meghan S. Stroshine. 2013. The role of officer attributes, job characteristics, and arrest activity in explaining police use of force. Criminal Justice Policy Review 24.5: 551–572.

                                                                                      DOI: 10.1177/0887403412452424Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                      This analysis of a single department’s use-of-force reports in 2010 finds that a few officers account for a large proportion of force use, that arrest activity is a strong predictor of force use, and that force use is influenced by the presence of other officers. They note that male officers are more likely to use force but find no effect of officer race or years of experience.

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                                                                                      • Klahm, C. F., J. Frank, and J. Liederbach. 2014. Understanding police use of force: Rethinking the link between conceptualization and measurement. Policing: An International Journal 37.3: 558–578.

                                                                                        DOI: 10.1108/PIJPSM-08-2013-0079Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                        This article systematically reviews fifty-three peer-reviewed use of force studies to assess the (in)consistency of conceptualization and measurement of police force. The authors find a lack of consistency along both dimensions in use of force research. They point to this as a root cause of inconsistencies in use of force research that complicates both interpretation of results and efforts to inform police policy.

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                                                                                        • Legewie, Joscha. 2016. Racial profiling and use of force in police stops: How local events trigger periods of increased discrimination. American Journal of Sociology 122.2: 379–424.

                                                                                          DOI: 10.1086/687518Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                          Using a quasi-experimental design in conjunction with data on nearly four million stop-and-frisk incidents in New York City, Legewie shows that the shooting of New York police officers by black suspects lead to a subsequent increase in the use of force against blacks. There was no such increase for whites or Hispanics, even after police were shot by white or Hispanic suspects.

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                                                                                          • Paoline, Eugene A., Jacinta M. Gau, and William Terrill. 2018. Race and the police use of force encounter in the United States. British Journal of Criminology 58.1: 54–74.

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                                                                                            The authors analyze use-of-force data from eight mid-sized to large police departments to assess the determinants of police force. They find that white officers use higher levels of force against black suspects, but suspect race does not affect black officers’ behavior. Also, they find no racial difference in suspect’s likelihood of noncompliance, nor did the strength of their resistance vary based on officer race.

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                                                                                            • Terrill, William, and Stephen D. Mastrofski. 2002. Situational and officer-based determinations of police coercion. Justice Quarterly 19:215–248.

                                                                                              DOI: 10.1080/07418820200095221Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                              The authors analyze over 3,000 police-suspect encounters from Indianapolis, Indiana, and St. Petersburg, Florida, to find which situational and officer-specific characteristics predict the use of force that ranges from verbal to impact force. They find that suspect resistance is a stronger predictor of force than disrespect, that more educated and experienced officers use lower levels of force, and young, male, nonwhite, and poor suspects are treated more forcefully irrespective of suspect behavior.

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                                                                                              Use of Lethal Force

                                                                                              Though statistically rare, the use of lethal force by police officers has profound consequences for the health and well-being of the public. As a result, researchers have paid special attention to this particular subset of police force. Fyfe 1988 provides a summary of lethal force research up until the late 1980s, and Zimring 2016 provides estimates of fatal officer-involved shootings. Jacobs and O’Brien 1998 explores the effect of city characteristics on the use of lethal force and Klinger, et al. 2016 zooms down to focus on neighborhood-level determinants. Complementing these structural analyses, McElvain and Kposowa 2008 assesses the officer-level correlates of lethal force, and Marenin 2016 attends to the role of police culture in the use of lethal force. Correll, et al. 2014 reviews research on the role of racial bias in officers’ decisions to use deadly force, and James, et al. 2016 provides an updated experimental look at bias in officer’s shooting decisions. Klinger and Brunson 2009 gives valuable insight into officers’ perceptual experiences during incidents of lethal force use. Finally, Klinger 2012 reviews existing data sources on lethal force and discusses their limitations.

                                                                                              • Correll, Joshua, Sean M. Hudson, Steffanie Guillermo, and Debbie S. Ma. 2014. The police officer’s dilemma: A decade of research on racial bias in the decision to shoot. Social and Personality Psychology Compass 8.5: 201–213.

                                                                                                DOI: 10.1111/spc3.12099Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                After a brief review of sociological literature on racial bias in police shootings, the authors review experimental research that assesses bias in deadly force decision-making. Overall, research suggests that untrained civilians are strongly affected by racial bias in shoot/don’t shoot scenarios while police are generally not. However, officers from specialized units and officers exposed to increased cognitive load do show marked racial bias in shoot/don’t shoot scenarios.

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                                                                                                • Fyfe, J. J. 1988. Police use of deadly force: Research and reform. Justice Quarterly 5.2: 165–205.

                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1080/07418828800089691Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                  In addition to his summary of lethal force research up until the late 1980s, Fyfe discusses the watershed legal decision in Tennessee v. Garner that restricted police officers from shooting at unarmed, fleeing suspects. His discussion provides a concise history of lethal force law and policy, as well as consideration of the implications of Tennessee v. Garner for police and the use of force.

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                                                                                                  • Jacobs, D., and R. M. O’Brien. 1998. The determinants of deadly force: A structural analysis of police violence. American Journal of Sociology 103.4: 837–862.

                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1086/231291Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                    The authors analyze 170 US cities to explore the structural determinants of lethal police force. Their results show that racial inequality at the city level and a city’s murder rate are positively related to lethal force. They also find that cities with a larger black population or that had recent growth in its black population showed more lethal force against blacks, but this effect is muted if the city has a black mayor.

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                                                                                                    • James, L., S. M. James, and B. J. Vila. 2016. The reverse racism effect. Criminology & Public Policy 15.2: 457–479.

                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1111/1745-9133.12187Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                      The authors expose officers to high-definition video simulations to measure the effects of racial bias on officers’ lethal force decisions. They find that while officers show moderate levels of racial bias as measured by their implicit association of black faces with weapons, this bias does not predict their decision to shoot in simulations. They also find that officers take longer to shoot armed black suspects than armed white suspects.

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                                                                                                      • Klinger, D. A. 2012. On the problems and promise of research on lethal police violence: A research note. Homicide Studies 16.1: 78–96.

                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1177/1088767911430861Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                        Similar to the discussion by Zimring 2016, Klinger details inconsistencies in official figures for police-caused deaths. Beyond issues with data quality, he also points out that using the number of police-caused deaths as a measure of lethal force is measuring only a portion of lethal force uses. He makes recommendations for amending existing data collection practices to address some of the issues raised.

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                                                                                                        • Klinger, D. A., and R. K. Brunson. 2009. Police officers’ perceptual distortions during lethal force situations: Informing the reasonableness standard. Criminology & Public Policy 8.1: 117–140.

                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-9133.2009.00537.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                          The authors draw on eighty police officers’ accounts of instances in which they shot a citizen. They find that officers commonly report experiencing auditory, visual, and temporal distortions. Further, these perceptual distortions change over the course of a shooting incident. The authors consider the legal implications of these findings for consideration of force under the prevailing “reasonableness” standard.

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                                                                                                          • Klinger, David, Richard Rosenfeld, Daniel Isom, and Michael Deckard. 2016. Race, crime, and the micro-ecology of deadly force. Criminology & Public Policy 15.1: 193–222.

                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1111/1745-9133.12174Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                            The authors employ micro-spatial analysis of 230 police shootings in St. Louis, Missouri, to assess the determinants of deadly force. They find that neighborhood violence is a predictor of deadly force more so than neighborhood racial composition but note that this is not a linear relationship; they provide suspect- and officer-level hypotheses for this curvilinear relationships between neighborhood violence and police deadly force.

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                                                                                                            • Marenin, O. 2016. Cheapening death: Danger, police street culture, and the use of deadly force. Police Quarterly 19.4: 461–487.

                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1177/1098611116652983Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                              Marenin draws on a range of past work to argue that informal police culture is an important determinant of lethal force incidents. In particular, he attends to the mythologizing of danger in policing and officers’ behavioral responses to perceived danger. He also discusses insufficient legal and managerial checks on officers as important factors in lethal force incidents.

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                                                                                                              • McElvain, J. P., and A. J. Kposowa. 2008. Police officer characteristics and the likelihood of using deadly force. Criminal Justice and Behavior 35.4: 505–521.

                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1177/0093854807313995Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                The authors analyze data from 186 officer-involved shootings to assess the officer-level determinants of lethal force. They find that older, white, male officers and officers with a previous history of shootings are more likely to be involved in shooting incidents.

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                                                                                                                • Zimring, F. E. 2016. How many killings by police. University of Chicago Legal Forum 2016:691–710.

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                                                                                                                  Zimring compares estimates of fatal officer-involved shootings generated from official statistics with those derived from crowdsourced data. He finds that in 2014 and 2015 crowdsourced data such as that provided by the Washington Post, The Guardian, and FiveThirtyEight.com record approximately two times the number of incidents captured by the US Vital Statistics or the Federal Bureau of Investigations Uniform Crime Report data. He concludes that approximately 1,000 people a year are killed by police gunfire.

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                                                                                                                  Police Misconduct and Its Control

                                                                                                                  Because of the tremendous power entrusted to police as representatives of the state, the misconduct of police officers is a dire threat to the legitimacy of the law and the functioning of democratic society. Unsurprisingly, a rich body of literature examines various types of police misconduct (also referred to as police deviance) and how to reduce it. Kappeler, et al. 1998 discusses the organizational, cultural, and broader social factors that structure police deviance of various kinds, while Punch 2009 homes in specifically on police corruption—both of these texts complement the analysis of deviance with discussion of how to reform policing to reduce deviance. Huff, et al. 2018 attends specifically to organizational characteristics of police departments that predict officer misconduct. Walker and Archbold 2013 provides a wide look at history and contemporary landscape of police reform and accountability, much of which was spurred by police misconduct. On the issue of misconduct related specifically to the use of force, Geller and Toch 1959 compiles a diverse set of readings on the abuse of police force. Relatedly, Skolnick and Fyfe 1994 provides an expansive investigations of excessive force, its causes, and its remedies, and Worden 1995 analyzes observational data from the Police Services Study to investigate the drivers of excessive force. Sherman 2018 focuses specifically on police shootings and argues for an organizational—not individual—approach to the study and control of lethal force. See Oxford Bibliographies article “Police Misconduct” for a comprehensive selection of readings on police misconduct.

                                                                                                                  • Geller, William A., and Hans Toch. 1959. Police violence: Understanding and controlling police abuse of force. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                    This edited volume provides theoretical and empirical insights into the use and abuse of police force from social science, legal, and administrative researchers. Though dated, these readings provide multiple perspectives on the abuse of force, its distribution, its determinants, and potential remedies.

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                                                                                                                    • Huff, J., M. D. White, and S. H. Decker. 2018. Organizational correlates of police deviance: A statewide analysis of misconduct in Arizona, 2000–2011. Policing: An International Journal 41.4: 465–481.

                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1108/PIJPSM-08-2017-0092Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                      The authors analyze over 1,500 incidents of police misconduct from over one hundred police departments in Arizona from 2000 to 2011 to ascertain the effect of organizational characteristics on police misconduct. Among other factors, they find that the type of agency, agency size, and the presence of accountability mechanisms explain variation in agency misconduct.

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                                                                                                                      • Kane, R. J. 2002. The social ecology of police misconduct. Criminology 40.4: 867–896.

                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-9125.2002.tb00976.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                        The author presents a longitudinal analysis of official misconduct cases in the New York City Police Department from 1975 to 1996. Using measures of social disorganizations such as population mobility and disadvantage, Kane finds that social disorganization and demographic shifts in the Latino population explain variation in misconduct over time. Additionally, he provides evidence that this variation happens within instead of across precincts over time.

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                                                                                                                        • Kappeler, V. E., R. D. Sluder, and G. P. Alpert. 1998. Forces of deviance: Understanding the dark side of policing. 2d ed. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland.

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                                                                                                                          This book begins with a definition of police misconduct and its salience as a social problem. Following a history of police misconduct in England and the United States, the authors cover the organizational, occupational, and cultural drivers of police deviance that includes brutality, racial discrimination, and more. They conclude with consideration of potential strategies for reducing police deviance.

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                                                                                                                          • Punch, M. 2009. Police corruption: Deviance, accountability and reform in policing. London: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                            Punch’s analysis of police deviance pay particular attention to the phenomenon of police corruption. He provides typologies of corruption, describes how corruption occurs, and compares corruption across the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Most important, Punch argues that corruption is best thought of as an institutional or organizational phenomenon instead of one driven by individual immorality.

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                                                                                                                            • Sherman, L. W. 2018. Reducing fatal police shootings as system crashes: Research, theory, and practice. Annual Review of Criminology 1.1: 421–449.

                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1146/annurev-criminol-032317-092409Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                              Sherman argues that two complementary frameworks can be used to research and reduce the frequency of such incidents: (i) system-crash prevention and (ii) contextual policy development. The former shifts focus away from individual deviance to operational systems, while the latter recognizes the variation in US police agencies and the fact that most lethal shootings occur in the small agencies least studied by police researchers.

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                                                                                                                              • Skolnick, J. H., and J. J. Fyfe. 1994. Above the law: Police and the excessive use of force. New York: Free Press.

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                                                                                                                                Written in the aftermath of the now infamous police beating of Rodney King, this book focuses on different types or “occasions” for excessive force, explanations for excessive force, and remedies. The authors pay particular attention to the organizational, occupational, and cultural environment of the police and its effect on excessive force.

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                                                                                                                                • Walker, S. E., and C. A. Archbold. 2013. The new world of police accountability. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

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                                                                                                                                  Walker and Archbold provide a sweeping account of developments in police reform. They cover reforms aimed at curbing the use of force, the implementation of citizen complaint systems, federal regulation of police, so-called early warning systems to identify police misconduct, and more. They also the effectiveness of various reform efforts.

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                                                                                                                                  • Worden, R. E. 1995. The “causes” of police brutality: Theory and evidence on police use of force. In And justice for all: Understanding and controlling police abuses of force. Edited by W. A. Gellar and H. Toch, 31–60. Washington, DC: Police Executive Research Forum.

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                                                                                                                                    Following a detailed review of past work on brutality and use of force, this quantitative analysis examines data from the Police Services Study to determine the organizational, officer, suspect, and officer, suspect, and situational factors that structure police brutality. Worden concludes with a discussion of the limitations of observational data for studying the use of force.

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                                                                                                                                    Police Effectiveness

                                                                                                                                    Though discussion of police effectiveness is complicated by varied definitions of what the goals of police are (or should be), the reduction of crime, disorder, and the fear of crime stand out as central charges of the policing profession. Sherman, et al. 1997 provides an early assessment of “what works” to accomplish these goals, Weisburd and Eck 2004 follows up with a more recent review that takes into account contemporary shifts toward more focused policing strategies, and Weisburd and Braga 2006 compiles writings by advocates and critics of eight policing innovations. Turning to analyses of specific policing strategies, Braga, et al. 2015; Braga, et al. 2014; and Weisburd, et al. 2010 provide systematic reviews of research on disorder policing, hot-spots policing, and problem-oriented policing, respectively. Similarly, Gill, et al. 2014 provides a systematic review of community-oriented policing, but the authors expand their consideration of the strategy’s effects to citizen satisfaction with police, perceptions of disorder, fear of crime, and police legitimacy. In addition to these studies of general policing strategies, research also attends to the effects of programs or police tactics aimed at specific types of crime. For example, the systematic review and meta-analysis Braga, et al. 2018 assesses the violence-reduction effect of focused deterrence initiatives in multiple cities, while Goel, et al. 2016 examines the distribution and efficacy of New York City’s “stop-and-frisk” tactics aimed at recovering illegal weapons. See the Oxford Bibliographies article “Police Effectiveness” for an expansive listing of readings related to police effectiveness, as well as more detailed information on the specifics of a broad range of policing strategies not covered in this section.

                                                                                                                                    • Braga, Anthony A., Andrew V. Papachristos, and David M. Hureau. 2014. The effects of hot spots policing on crime: An updated systematic review and meta-analysis. Justice Quarterly 31.4: 633–663.

                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1080/07418825.2012.673632Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                      This systematic review and meta-analysis of hotspots policing finds a small but statistically significant effect of this policing strategy on crime. Further, they find that hotspots policing within a problem-oriented policing framework produces larger reductions than simply focusing traditional policing tactics. They also note that what limited research exists on the effect of hotspots policing on police–community relations suggests positive sentiments toward more focused policing efforts.

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                                                                                                                                      • Braga, Anthony A., David L. Weisburd, and Brandon Turchan. 2018. Focused deterrence strategies and crime control. Criminology & Public Policy 17.1: 1–46.

                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1111/1745-9133.12353Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                        This systematic review and meta-analysis of twenty-five quasi-experimental studies finds that focused deterrence strategies (also known as pulling levers) are associated with moderate and statistically significant reductions in crime, particular with regard to gang violence, open-air drug markets, and repeat offenders. The authors note that no experimental evaluation of focused deterrence exists and call for concerted effort to better understand the mechanisms underlying the seeming effectiveness of focused deterrence.

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                                                                                                                                        • Braga, Anthony A., Brandon C. Welsh, and Cory Schnell. 2015. Can policing disorder reduce crime? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency 52.4: 567–588.

                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1177/0022427815576576Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                          This article provides a systematic review and meta-analysis of thirty randomized control or quasi-experimental studies that analyze the effect of disorder policing (also known as broken windows policing). The authors find that disorder policing is related to significant but modest reductions in crime and that the strongest effects were found for disorder policing that was based on community or problem-oriented policing frameworks aimed at reducing disorder at specific places.

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                                                                                                                                          • Gill, Charlotte, David Weisburd, Cody W. Telep, Zoe Vitter, and Trevor Bennett. 2014. Community-oriented policing to reduce crime, disorder and fear and increase satisfaction and legitimacy among citizens: A systematic review. Journal of Experimental Criminology 10.4: 399–428.

                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1007/s11292-014-9210-ySave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                            This systematic review and meta-analysis of community-oriented policing (COP) finds that COP is related to decreases in perceptions of disorder and improved satisfaction with police and perception of police legitimacy. However, COP is not found to reduce observed crime or fear of crime. The authors suggest that short-term benefits of COP such as enhanced citizen satisfaction could be consequential for long-term crime reduction efforts.

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                                                                                                                                            • Goel, Sharad, Justin M. Rao, and Ravi Shroff. 2016. Precinct or prejudice? Understanding racial disparities in New York City’s stop-and-frisk policy. Annals of Applied Statistics 10.1: 365–394.

                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1214/15-AOAS897Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                              This analysis of stop-and-frisk incidents in New York City predicated on suspicion of weapon possession shows that, overall, the likelihood of finding a weapon is very low (approximately 3 percent). Stops with the lowest probability of weapon recovery disproportionately target minority suspects, suggesting that stops of minority suspects are less likely to meet the standard of reasonable suspicion. Geographic variation in police tactics explain a large fraction of this disparity.

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                                                                                                                                              • Sherman, Lawrence W., et al. 1997. Preventing crime: What works, what doesn’t, what’s promising: A report to the United States Congress. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice.

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                                                                                                                                                This Congressional report reviews the crime-reduction effect of policing strategies and tactics such as hot-spots policing, rapid response, foot patrols, and drug raids. Additionally, the report discusses community-based, family-based, school-based, place-based, and labor market-based crime prevention efforts and concludes that prevention efforts (and funds) must be directed to neighborhoods in which violence and poverty concentrate to achieve significant reductions in crime and violence.

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                                                                                                                                                • Weisburd, David, and Anthony A. Braga, eds. 2006. Police innovation: Contrasting perspectives. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                  This edited volume brings together proponents and skeptics of eight policing innovations: COMPSTAT, evidence-based policing, problem-oriented policing, community policing, broken windows policing (also known as disorder policing), pulling levers policing (also known as focused deterrence), third-party policing, and hot-spots policing. A useful text for structuring undergraduate or graduate discussion to assess strengths and weaknesses of a given strategy or innovation.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Weisburd, David, and John E. Eck. 2004. What can police do to reduce crime, disorder, and fear? Annals of the American Academy of Social and Political Sciences 593:42–65.

                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1177/0002716203262548Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                    The authors find limited evidence that the standard model of policing (e.g., random patrol, rapid response times) is an effective solution to crime, disorder, and fear. In contrast, they suggest that geographically specific strategies like hot-spots policing are most effective at reducing crime and disorder, community policing is effective at reducing fear of crime, and that problem-oriented policing is effective at reducing crime, disorder, and fear of crime.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Weisburd, David, Cody W. Telep, Joshua C. Hinkle, and John E. Eck. 2010. Is problem-oriented policing effective in reducing crime and disorder? Criminology & Public Policy 9:139–172.

                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-9133.2010.00617.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                      This systematic review and meta-analysis of problem-oriented policing (POP) finds POP is related to small but statistically significant reductions in crime and disorder. The authors note that the mean effect size of POP is larger when including less rigorous pre–post studies, as well as that problem-orienting policing is less of a police strategy and more of a problem-solving paradigm that can include diverse strategies aimed at equally diverse problems.

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                                                                                                                                                      Police Legitimacy, Procedural Justice, and Legal Cynicism

                                                                                                                                                      The concept of legitimacy is salient across the breadth of the criminal justice system and, indeed, well beyond its bounds. See the Oxford Bibliographies article “Legitimacy” which provides a broad overview of differing definitions of legitimacy as well as its foundations in law, political philosophy, and criminology. With regard to policing, specifically, legitimacy refers to the belief that police have the authority to dictate the behavior of the public, by extension, that the public are required to cooperate with and defer to the authority of police. Tyler 1990 provides early theoretical and empirical evidence of the antecedents to legal legitimacy with regard to courts and police, and provides evidence that procedural justice—the perceived fairness of legal agents and legal procedure—is an important determinant of legal legitimacy. Tyler, et al. 2015 gives an overview of the subsequent decades of research on legal legitimacy and policing (as well other criminal justice institutions), Nagin and Telep 2017 reviews the empirical evidence on procedural justice, legal compliance, and legitimacy, and Worden and McLean 2018 discusses how police organizations can measure procedural justice and how this might affect police operations. Complementing consideration of what police can do to enhance legitimacy, Tyler, et al. 2014 and Gau and Brunson 2010 describes policing tactics that alienate civilians and damage the legitimacy of the police. Carr, et al. 2007 and Kirk and Matsuda 2011 discuss the closely linked concept of legal cynicism—the view of police as illegitimate, unresponsive, and unable to provide for public safety—which Gau 2015 finds mediates the effect of procedural justice on perceptions of police legitimacy.

                                                                                                                                                      • Carr, Patrick J., Laura Napolitano, and Jessica Keating. 2007. We never call the cops and here is why: A qualitative examination of legal cynicism in three Philadelphia neighborhoods. Criminology 45:445–480.

                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-9125.2007.00084.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                        This paper draws on interviews with 147 youths in Philadelphia and describes the experiences with police and resulting perspectives of those in high-crime neighborhoods. Results indicate that most youth in high-crime areas feel negatively toward the police as a result of negative experiences. Interestingly, even youth with negative perceptions of police believe that increased enforcement can reduce crime, supporting an attenuation (not subcultural) view of legal cynicism.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Gau, Jacinta M. 2015. Procedural justice, police legitimacy, and legal cynicism: A test for mediation effects. Police Practice and Research 16.5: 402–415.

                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1080/15614263.2014.927766Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                          This paper analyzes community survey data from a small Florida city to empirically test the hypothesis that legal cynicism mediates the effect of procedural justice on police legitimacy. Gau finds that procedural justice reduces legal cynicism and declines in cynicism enhanced police legitimacy.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Gau, Jacinta M., and Rod K. Brunson. 2010. Procedural justice and order maintenance policing: A study of inner‐city young men’s perceptions of police legitimacy. Justice Quarterly 27.2: 255–279.

                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1080/07418820902763889Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                            Drawing on interviews with young men in St. Louis, Missouri, this study finds that aggressive order maintenance policing of low-level offenses damages police legitimacy and creates feelings of anger and resentment toward police that are seen as unfair and abusive. They suggest that future work should include the perspective of police officers to understand the rationale for behaviors received so negatively by the public.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Kirk, David S., and Mauri Matsuda. 2011. Legal cynicism, collective efficacy, and the ecology of arrest. Criminology 49.2: 443–472.

                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-9125.2011.00226.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                              This analysis of data from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods (PHDCN) investigates the effect of legal cynicism on arrest. The authors find that, in neighborhoods high in legal cynicism, the probability of arrest is lower than in low-cynicism areas. Further, residents of cynical neighborhoods are less likely to engage in collective efficacy, which reduces the likelihood of residents cooperating to control crime themselves or by cooperating with police.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Nagin, Daniel S., and Cody W. Telep. 2017. Procedural justice and legal compliance. Annual Review of Law and Social Science 13.1: 1–24.

                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1146/annurev-lawsocsci-110316-113310Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                This article reviews research on the effect of procedural justice on legal legitimacy and compliance with the law. The authors find that studies based on perceptual measures link procedural justice to perceptions of legitimacy and legal compliance but strongly caution against making causal claims given that what experimental studies exist fail to find a consistent effect of procedural justice on legitimacy and do not measure compliance.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Tyler, Tom R. 1990. Why people obey the law. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                  Tyler draws on a two-wave telephone survey of Chicago residents (Wave 1: N = 1,157; Wave 2: N = 804) who were asked about their recent experiences with police and courts. He finds that compliance has a strong normative component—people believe they should obey the law—but that perceptions of the law’s legitimacy are strongly affected by procedural justice—the perceived fairness of legal agents and procedures.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Tyler, Tom R., Jeffrey Fagan, and Amanda Geller. 2014. Street stops and police legitimacy: Teachable moments in young urban men’s legal socialization. Journal of Empirical Legal Studies 11.4: 751–785.

                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1111/jels.12055Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                    Using a randomized telephone sample of young men in New York City, this paper analyzes how street stops affect police legitimacy. Results show that legitimacy is more strongly affected by the quality of police stops than the quantity. Also, enhanced legitimacy is related to more cooperation with police, as are perceptions of police effectiveness.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • Tyler, Tom R., Phillip Atiba Goff, and Robert J. MacCoun. 2015. The impact of psychological science on policing in the United States: Procedural justice, legitimacy, and effective law enforcement. Psychological Science in the Public Interest 16.3: 75–109.

                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1177/1529100615617791Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                      This review article traces the development of research on legitimacy and the role of this work in centering concerns of public trust in the police in contemporary scholarship and criminal justice policy. Though emphasizing a psychological perspective, this review provides a thorough background on theoretical and empirical work on legitimacy and its importance to fostering cooperation and compliance with police and the criminal justice system writ large.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • Worden, Robert E., and Sarah J. McLean. 2018. Measuring, managing, and enhancing procedural justice in policing: Promise and pitfalls. Criminal Justice Policy Review 29.2: 149–171.

                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1177/0887403416662505Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                        Worden and McLean give surveys of civilians who had contact with police in two police agencies and provide statistical reports of civilian satisfaction and their perceptions of procedural justice to police administrators. They find variation in how information on procedural justice is used (or not) by administrators and do not find that procedural justice is related to significant improvements in satisfaction or police legitimacy.

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                                                                                                                                                                        Contemporary Issues in Policing

                                                                                                                                                                        Following the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and resulting unrest in cities across the United States, President Obama convened a task force on 21st-century policing (President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing 2015) to recommend ways to bridge the gap between police and the public. In addition to thorough consideration of policing strategies that can enhance public safety while also improving trust and the legitimacy of police (see Police Legitimacy, Procedural Justice, and Legal Cynicism), the task force touches on issues such as immigration and the policing of immigrant communities, police militarization, and the role of new police technologies. Against the backdrop of a contemporary shift toward local enforcement of federal immigration law, Armenta 2017 provides a thorough discussion of the history and current state of immigration enforcement by local police. Vidales, et al. 2009 examines Latinos’ perceptions of police before and after a contentious local effort to use local police in immigration enforcement, and Pickett 2016 examines how perceptions of Latino threat influence public support for expanded police powers writ large. Turning to militarization, Bieler 2016 reviews past work on police militarization, Balko 2013 provides a thorough history of police militarization and the development of Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams in the United States, and Kraska 2007 discusses the blurring lines between police and the US military. Finally, a growing area of research attends to the possibilities and pitfalls posed by new policing technologies, particularly with regard to so-called Big Data and its effect on policing and the public. Ridgeway 2018 provides a broad overview of developments in Big Data technology and its implementation within policing. Ferguson 2017 provides a book-length discussion of these issues with particular attention to the role of new technologies in perpetuating inequality, and Brayne 2017 provides ethnographic evidence of the implementation and effects of Big Data surveillance technology in the Los Angeles Police Department.

                                                                                                                                                                        • Armenta, Amada. 2017. Protect, serve, and deport: The rise of policing as immigration enforcement. Oakland: Univ. of California Press.

                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1525/luminos.33Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                          This ethnographic study describes the development and current reality of “crimmigration” in Nashville, Tennessee. Armenta attends to local officers who are now the front line of local immigration enforcement as well as Latino residents come to distrust and avoid police who, even if they have the best of intentions, contribute to the racialization and criminalization of Latino communities.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Balko, Radley. 2013. Rise of the warrior cop: The militarization of America’s police forces. New York: Public Affairs.

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                                                                                                                                                                            Though technically a journalistic account of police militarization, this book provides one of if not the best historical accounts of the development and adoption of SWAT teams in the United States. Balko also attends to how policy change from the War on Drugs to the War on Terror contribute to the militarization of the police and the consequences of these trends for the public.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Bieler, Sam. 2016. Police militarization in the USA: The state of the field. Policing: An International Journal 39.4: 586–600.

                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1108/PIJPSM-03-2016-0042Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                              This article reviews scholarly and “grey” literature on police militarization in the United States. Bieler concludes that there is no consistent definition of police militarization and that there is disagreement among scholars as to whether militarization will benefit policing by encouraging professionalization and accountability or exacerbate distrust of police and encourage reliance on force. He calls for empirical tests of the relationship between police militarization and police legitimacy.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Brayne, Sarah. 2017. Big data surveillance: The case of policing. American Sociological Review 82.5: 977–1008.

                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1177/0003122417725865Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                This article describes the intersection of surveillance and Big Data, using the Los Angeles Police Department as an illustrative example. Brayne uses ethnographic observations to provide a framework for the effects of Big Data on surveillance writ large and describes how Big Data differentially affects various facets of police operations in ways that have profound implications for inequality and the law.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Ferguson, Andrew Guthrie. 2017. The rise of big data policing: Surveillance, race, and the future of law enforcement. New York: NYU Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  Ferguson describes the rise of Big Data and the range of social, political, and economic forces that set the stage for the rapid incorporation of this technology into the daily operations of US police. Importantly, though police believe that data can enhance the objectivity of police activity and guard against unequal treatment, Big Data and its associated tactics in fact reify existing spatial and racial inequalities in policing.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  • Kraska, Peter B. 2007. Militarization and policing—Its relevance to 21st century police. Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice 1.4: 501–513.

                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1093/police/pam065Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                    This article summarizes past work—much of it by Kraska himself—on the (inadequate) distinction between police and the military in the United States. In particular, Kraska unpacks the difference between militarization and militarism and considers the implications of these broad social forces for not only contemporary policing but also for broader concerns of democracy and security.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • Pickett, Justin T. 2016. On the social foundations for crimmigration: Latino threat and support for expanded police powers. Journal of Quantitative Criminology 32.1: 103–132.

                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1007/s10940-015-9256-7Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                      Pickett uses multivariate regression to analyze data from a nationally representative telephone survey that asks about respondents’ perceptions of Latinos as political and economic threats as well as their support expanded police powers. He finds that whites with stronger perceptions of Latino threat are more likely to support expanded police powers, particularly with regards to stopping civilians based on their appearance (i.e., profiling).

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. 2015. Final report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Washington, DC: Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        Based on written and oral testimony from police leaders, academics, community members, and experts across a multitude of fields, this report advances recommendations for improving US policing around six pillars: (i) building trust and legitimacy, (ii) policy and oversight, (iii) technology and social media, (iv) community policing and crime reduction, (v) training and education, and (vi) officer safety and wellness.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        • Ridgeway, Greg. 2018. Policing in the era of Big Data. Annual Review of Criminology 1.1: 401–419.

                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1146/annurev-criminol-062217-114209Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                          This review article discusses the phenomenon of Big Data and its salience to policing in the United States. He describes various new technologies in great detail as well as how they are being implemented in police departments. He concludes with a brief discussion of potential pitfalls of Big Data in policing and outlines avenues for future research.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          • Vidales, Guadalupe, Kristen M. Day, and Michael Powe. 2009. Police and immigration enforcement: Impacts on Latino(a) residents’ perceptions of police. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management 32.4: 631–653.

                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1108/13639510911000740Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                            This article examines the effect of the involvement of local police with federal immigration enforcement in Costa Mesa, California, on Latino’s perceptions of police. The pre–post analysis of collected survey data finds that Latinos in 2007 had more negative perceptions of police, felt less accepted within their community, felt police were less helpful, and reported being less likely to report crimes to the police in 2007 than in 2002.

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