Police Killings of Civilians: Does Community Policing Make a Difference?

John M. MacDonald, University of South Carolina

The connection between police use of deadly force and community characteristics has long been recognized in the literature. Research suggests that both political and structural aspects of communities play a role in the application of deadly force by the police. Studies, however, have neglected to examine the relationship between variations in police organizations and the use of deadly force. Given the advent of community policing during the past decade this presents an important area of social science inquiry. The present study examines this issue through an analysis of police killings of civilians in 198 U.S. cities. The relationship between police use of deadly force and police organizational factors is examined, controlling for community characteristics and disaggregated felony homicides. Implications for a theory of police use of violence are discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006