skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 229188 Find in a Library
Title: Constructing Crime: Neighborhood Characteristics and Police Recording Behavior
Journal: Journal of Criminal Justice  Volume:37  Issue:6  Dated:November-December 2009  Pages:553-563
Author(s): Sean P. Varano; Joseph A. Schafer; Jeffrey Michael Cancino; Mark L. Swatt
Date Published: December 2009
Page Count: 11
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Using both social disorganization and conflict theories as conceptual models, this study determined whether neighborhood characteristics influenced police decisions to make official crime reports across a wide cross-section of reported call types.
Abstract: The findings suggest that neighborhoods that experience higher levels of social disorganization experience reduced access to public control. A neighborhood's social disorganization apparently matters the most for crimes where the chances of apprehending a suspect are at their lowest (e.g., burglary). Findings provide limited support for the conclusion that police respond less formally to victimizations that happen in disorganized neighborhoods, even after controlling for work load. This conclusion, however, is likely to be crime-specific; for example, robbery is more likely to be reported by police as an official crime because it is a serious personal crime that involves strangers, some level of direct victim-offender interaction, and often involves physical harm. The inclusion of land use and temporal measures of crime added an additional variable to the police decision to record crime. The findings indicate that police and other governmental agents may be more sensitive to the economic interests associated with commercial/entertainment districts; for example, police are likely to respond to assaultive crimes and drugs/vice offenses more formally in entertainment districts, since they are among the most visible forms of disorder that threaten patronage in entertainment districts. This research was conducted in San Antonio, TX. Dependent variables were related to police recording practices (calls for service and official crime incident data). Separate dependent variables were measured for each of nine categories of calls for service. One set of independent variables represented traditional measures of social disorganization theory. Three additional neighborhood variables were average yearly calls for service, percent of commercial land use, and calls for service on Fridays and Saturdays. 3 tables, 16 notes, and 69 references
Main Term(s): Police discretion
Index Term(s): Economic influences; Neighborhood; Police differential response; Police reports; Social conditions; Texas
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.