A Multilevel Examination of the Relationship Between Racial Tension and Attitudes Toward the Police

McNeeley, Susan; Grothoff, Garrett
September 2016
American Journal of Criminal Justice;Sep2016, Vol. 41 Issue 3, p383
Academic Journal
Prior research has established the effect of race and ethnicity on citizens' perceptions of the police. This paper serves to build on this body of literature by examining the effect of racial tension on attitudes toward the police. Specifically, we conduct multilevel analyses using survey data from Seattle, Washington to explore whether individual perceptions of racial tension and/or community-level racial tension are related to residents' attitudes toward the police. The results show that attitudes toward the police were generally less favorable among respondents who perceived racial tension or mistrust in their communities. Additionally, community racial tension had significant contextual effects on residents' perceived racial profiling by the police. This study has implications for future police policy: understanding how racial tension shapes perceptions of the police will assist in selecting and adapting crime control strategies.


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