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NCJ Number: 202300 Find in a Library
Title: Explaining Suspects' Resistance and Disrespect Toward Police
Journal: Journal of Criminal Justice  Volume:31  Issue:5  Dated:September/October 2003  Pages:475-492
Author(s): Robin S. Engel
Date Published: 2003
Page Count: 18
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study identified the factors that influenced multiple measures of suspects' resistance to and disrespect toward police officers, using systematic-observation data collected in 1977 from 24 police departments in 3 metropolitan areas.
Abstract: For the purposes of this study, suspect "resistance" included not only physical aggression and other overtly hostile acts, but also verbal aggression (e.g., arguing with or cursing at an officer), noncompliance or statements that challenge officers' authority or legitimacy (e.g., denying an officer's accusation, questioning an officer's judgement, or refusing to respond to an officer's questions or requests), and general forms of disrespect (e.g., sarcasm and body language). Within the dataset used in this study, suspect resistance was measured in multiple ways, including measures of suspects' actions toward officers that could be considered resistant and observers' characterizations of suspects as disrespectful. In addition to the systematic social observation of patrol officers in the field, this study involved interviews with citizens and officers in 60 neighborhoods selected with explicit reference to the race and income of residents. Information on 5,688 police-citizen encounters during over 900 shifts was coded on a standardized form. "Encounters" were defined as any event in which there was face-to-face communication between a police officer and a member of the public. Findings indicate that non-White suspects were more likely to be noncompliant toward White officers, but they were not more likely to show more aggressive forms of resistance (e.g., verbal aggression, physical aggression, or disrespect). The strongest and most consistent predictor of suspects' resistance was the use of drugs and/or alcohol. This factor increased the likelihood of all forms of resistance. Contrary to expectations, males were not more likely than females to be disrespectful toward police. Compared to male suspects, the odds of being disrespectful for female suspects were increased by a factor of 1.6. Collectively, the current findings suggest that the factors that influence displays of resistance and disrespect toward police differ according to the type of actions being considered. Future research should consider how to better measure suspect disrespect from patrol officers' perspectives rather than observers' perspectives. 7 tables, 14 notes, and 65 references
Main Term(s): Police-citizen interactions
Index Term(s): Drug effects; Gender issues; Public Opinion of the Police; Resisting arrest
Note: A previous version of this article was presented at the American Society of Criminology annual meetings in Atlanta, GA, November 8-10, 2001.
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