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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 77072 Find in a Library
Title: Citizen Attitudes Toward the Police - A Review of Past Findings and Suggestions for Future Policy
Journal: Journal of Police Science and Administration  Volume:9  Issue:1  Dated:(March 1981)  Pages:80-87
Author(s): S H Decker
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 8
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Variables correlating with citizen attitudes toward the police (ATP) are examined through a review of relevant studies.
Abstract: Individual-and contextual-level variables were examined to determine the most powerful predictors and any policy implications that might be derived from the findings. Of the variables of race, age, socioeconomic status, and sex, only race and age were of clear importance. Blacks and youths have the lowest ATP. Results from the contextual variables were more complex. The variable of neighborhood culture was of considerable importance in explaining negative ATP. Within certain neighborhoods, there was a pervasive belief about the police held by citizens in spite of their own experiences (or lack thereof) with the police. The variable of police contacts was also important. Those citizens with negative or involuntary contacts held negative perceptions of the police, and positive encounters did not seem to improve ATP. Being a victim of crime was not related to a lowering of perceptions of the police. Police-community relations programs and civilian review boards did not improve citizen evaluations. Findings suggest that no single police program can produce positive ATP, because attitudes toward the police are firmly embedded in the social structure. Policies and practices, however, should not reinforce these conditions. By recognizing the variables related to negative ATP and developing policies designed to counter their influence, further deterioration of ATP can be avoided, and some positive results may be produced. Police decentralization is proposed as one possible means of enhancing police-community relations at the neighborhood level. References are provided. (Author abstract modified)
Index Term(s): Decentralization; Literature reviews; Police community relations; Police management; Public Attitudes/Opinion
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