Racially Biased Policing: Determinants of Citizen Perceptions

Weitzer, Ronald; Tuch, Steven A.
March 2005
Social Forces;Mar2005, Vol. 83 Issue 3, p1009
Academic Journal
The current controversy surrounding racial profiling in America has focused renewed attention on the larger issue of racial bias by the police. Yet little is known about the extent of police racial bias and even less about public perceptions of the problem. This article analyzes recent national survey data on citizens' views of, and reported personal experiences with, several forms of police bias--including differential treatment of individuals and neighborhoods, police prejudice, and racial profiling. We find that attitudes toward the prevalence and acceptability of these practices are largely shaped by citizens' race, personal experiences with police discrimination, and exposure to news media reporting on incidents of police misconduct. The findings lend support to the group-position theory of race relations.


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