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NCJ Number: 67479 Find in a Library
Title: PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS OF 'SUSPECTS' AND TREATMENT BY THE POLICE - A STREET EXPERIMENT - PART 1
Journal: ABSTRACTS ON POLICE SCIENCE  Volume:6  Issue:6  Dated:(NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 1978)  Pages:323-331
Author(s): H M WILLEMSE; M L MEYBOOM
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 9
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: Netherlands
Annotation: THE EXTENT TO WHICH PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS OF POTENTIAL SUSPECTS INFLUENCE THE REACTION OF POLICE IS THE SUBJECT OF THIS DUTCH RESEARCH STUDY.
Abstract: THE STUDY ANALYZES DISCRETIONARY DECISIONMAKING AT THE POLICE LEVEL, SPECIFICALLY THE EFFECT OF SKIN COLOR, NEATNESS, AND SEX ON POLICE DECISIONS. IN THE EXPERIMENT, THREE VARIABLES WERE EXAMINED FROM THREE VIEWPOINTS: MALE-FEMALE, WHITE-NONWHITE, AND NEAT-UNTIDY. THE DEPENDENT VARIABLE WAS THE REACTION OF THE POLICE TO EACH OF EIGHT SUSPECT TYPES (FEMALE-WHITE-NEAT; MALE-WHITE-NEAT, ETC.). POLICE BEHAVIOR WAS OBSERVED IN A SITUATION IN WHICH IT WAS NOT EVIDENT AT FIRST WHETHER AN OFFENSE WAS OR WAS NOT COMMITTED--CAR THEFT. THE SUSPECT ROLE WAS PLAYED BY TWO MALES AND TWO FEMALES AGED 20-30. ONE MALE AND ONE FEMALE WERE BLACK. EACH OF THE FOUR ACTORS PLAYED THE SUSPECT ROLE, ASSUMING A WELL-GROOMED APPEARANCE ON HALF OF THE OCCASIONS AND AN UNTIDY APPEARANCE ON THE OTHER HALF OF THE OTHER OCCASIONS. OBSERVATIONS WERE OF SIMULATED CAR THEFTS IN 86 DUTCH MUNICIPALITIES OF WHICH 64 WERE ANALYZED. A VARIANCE ANALYSIS WAS USED TO DETERMINE THE EXTENT TO WHICH THE MANIPULATED VARIABLES OF SKIN COLOR, NEATNESS, AND SEX COULD EXPLAIN DIFFERENCES IN THE TREATMENT OF SUSPECTS. SKIN COLOR DID NOT EXPLAIN ANY DIFFERENCE IN TREATMENT. UNTIDY PERSONS, HOWEVER, RECEIVED MORE NEGATIVE TREATMENT FROM POLICE. WOMEN RECEIVED MORE POSITIVE TREATMENT THAN MEN, BUT DIFFERENCE WAS NOT STATISTICALLY SIGNIFICANT. AN UNTIDY APPEARANCE LED TO CONTEMPT BUT NOT TO INCREASED SUSPICION ON THE PART OF PATROLLING POLICEMEN. FOR DEGREE OF SUSPICION, SEX WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT VARIABLE, MEN BEING REGARDED WITH MORE SUSPICION THAN WOMEN. STEP-WISE REGRESSION ANALYSIS REVEALED THAT ONE VARIABLE EXPLAINED MOST OF THE VARIANCE OF THE DEPENDENT VARIABLE--SUSPECT'S BEHAVIOR. THIS BEHAVIOR EXPLAINED 32 PERCENT OF THE VARIANCE IN THE DEGREE OF SUSPICION AND 14 PERCENT IN THE DEGREE OF RESPECT. THE EXPERIMENT SHOWED THAT THE MORE TROUBLESOME THE SUSPECT BEHAVIOR, THE MORE SUSPICIOUS AND CONTEMPTUOUS THE POLICE OFFICER. SINCE THE EXPERIMENT WAS LIMITED, FURTHER RESEARCH ON POLICE CITIZEN CONTACTS IS DESIRABLE. REFERENCES ARE CITED, AND TABULAR DATA INCLUDED. (MJW)
Index Term(s): Crime detection; Police decisionmaking; Research; Studies; Suspect identification
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=67479

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