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NCJ Number: 162107 Find in a Library
Title: Relative Importance of Race and Ethnicity on Citizen Attitudes Toward the Police
Journal: American Journal of Police  Volume:14  Issue:2  Dated:(1995)  Pages:45-66
Author(s): V J Webb; C E Marshall
Date Published: 1995
Page Count: 22
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study compares any differences in attitudes toward police among samples of white, Hispanic, and African-American respondents.
Abstract: The research is part of a more general study of urban conditions and services in the metropolitan area of Omaha. The sample included 229 African-Americans, 210 Hispanics, and 351 whites. Nearly all of the African-Americans and Hispanics were from two neighborhoods, and the whites were from neighborhoods scattered across the city. The data were collected through a telephone survey that was conducted in the spring of 1991. Five scales were used to measure attitudes toward the police. Four of these scales were replications of those developed and used by Dunham and Alpert (1988). The fifth scale was developed by the authors and used in three previous studies. The five scales measured respondent attitudes toward police demeanor, police responsibility, police use of discretion, police patrol, and officer characteristics. Five sets of variables were included: demographic variables, social class, neighborhood, contact with police, and race-ethnicity. The findings are generally consistent with those found in the attitudes toward the police found in the research literature. Race variables had the greatest effects on attitudes toward police; and age, gender, and police contact had significant, but smaller effects upon certain attitude dimensions. Contrary to some recent research efforts, the results showed an effect of social class on two of the dimensions. Overall, the analysis found that the largest effects were for the scales pertinent to officer demeanor and officer characteristics. None of the variables used explains much of the variation in the scales that addressed responsibility for crime control, discretion, and active patrol strategies. When compared to Hispanic and white respondents, African-Americans were less likely to agree with positively worded statements about police officer demeanor. Hispanics also were less likely than whites to agree with such statements. The race effect was even stronger when agreement/disagreement with statements about police officer characteristics was examined. African-Americans and Hispanics were less likely than whites to agree with positive statements about the personal and professional characteristics of police officers. Implications are drawn for police policies. 2 tables, 3 notes, 25 references, and an appended list of scale items
Main Term(s): Public Opinion of the Police
Index Term(s): Ethnic groups; Police-minority relations
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