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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 170632 Find in a Library
Title: Extralegal Variables and Arrest
Journal: Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency  Volume:33  Issue:3  Dated:(August 1996)  Pages:349-353
Author(s): R J Lundman
Date Published: 1996
Page Count: 5
Type: Issue Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Old data from studies of factors that affect the outcomes of police-citizen interactions should be re-examined, using the research techniques currently being touted by researchers in this area, with data collected and reported by Black and Reiss being the next logical target.
Abstract: The Black and Reiss effort (1971) was a pivotally important study that profoundly shaped understanding of urban police and their work. The next task for scholars interested in the re- examination of old data in this area should focus on the Black and Reiss data in the ways Klinger (1994) suggested. Klinger focused on some of the many problems associated with previous research that linked extralegal variables, such as demeanor, and arrest. Previous research mixed legally permissible angry words and actions with illegal criminal deeds in operationalizing demeanor. Data analysis typically involved simple percentage comparisons with few meaningful controls for crime and other potentially important variables. The result was that the foundation for recurrent assertions that street cops pay close attention to extralegal variables was at best weak. Klinger has suggested revisiting the old data used in previous research, fixing some of the problems, and determining whether the outcomes are different. Demeanor and other extralegal variables still matter in multivariate models that include partial controls for criminal actions before and during encounters and measures of demeanor that attempt to distinguish legal words and actions from illegal deeds. Careful specification of pre-encounter (including outstanding arrest warrants) and interaction-phase criminality also is needed. Finally, the characteristics of the officer making dispositional decisions should be considered, along with the urban places where encounters occur, as well as shift, shift history, and shift time. The policy issue raised by such research is whether extralegal variables should shape police arrest decisions. 2 notes and 21 references
Main Term(s): Police-citizen interactions
Index Term(s): Arrest and apprehension; Police decisionmaking; Police discretion; Research methods
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