skip navigation

PUBLICATIONS

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: 81852 Find in a Library
Title: Street-Level Justice - Situational Determinants of Police Arrest Decisions
Journal: Social Problems  Volume:29  Issue:2  Dated:(December 1981)  Pages:167-177
Author(s): D A Smith; C A Visher
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 11
Sponsoring Agency: National Science Foundation
Arlington, VA 22230
Grant Number: GI43949
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: An examination of variations in police arrest practices, based on data collected in 1977 from police encounters with suspects, indicates that arrest practices reflect both legal and extra-legal situational factors.
Abstract: Data collection was done by trained civilians riding on 900 patrol shifts who recorded information on 5,688 police-citizens encounters in 24 police departments in the metropolitan areas of St. Louis, Rochester, N.Y., and Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla. From these, 742 pertinent encounters were extracted for analysis. Most police contacts with suspects involved misdemeanor offenses; 81.7 percent of the suspects were male, 51.6 percent were white; the predominant age was 19-35 years. Victims were present in less than half of the cases -- 21.3 percent of the victims requested suspect's arrest; 35.4 percent requested informal disposition; 43.3 percent expressed no preference. The decision to take a suspect into custody appeared to be influenced by such features of the situation as the dispositional preferences of victims, the suspect's race and demeanor and the presence of bystanders. Furthermore, the seriousness of the offense increased the chances of arrest. Contrary to much existing literature, males and females were equally likely to be arrested. The research lends some support to both the consensus and conflict models of police behavior. While legal offense seriousness and victim preference motivate arrests, so do suspects' positions of social disadvantage (e.g., being black). Another motivation for arrest decisions is the police need to express authority and appear in control especially before victims and onlookers. The assumption that when victim and suspect know each other, the victim may be less willing to cooperate in the subsequent adjudication may be a deterrent to arrest. Graphs, tabular data, and 41 references are given.
Index Term(s): Arrest and apprehension; Police attitudes; Police discretion; Victim-offender relationships
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=81852

*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.