African American Perceptions of the Police: A Study of "In Group" Variation

Joseph A. Schafer, Southern Illinois Univ. at Carbondale
Beth M. Huebner, Michigan State University
Timothy S. Bynum, Michigan State University

Existing research on attitudes toward the police has identified demographic variables predicting citizen satisfaction with police services and performance. A common theme in this literature are the disparate rates of satisfaction reported by African American and Caucasian citizens. While it is generally understood that African American citizens express lower levels of satisfaction, to what degree is this reduced satisfaction consistent among African Americans and what factors might cause variation within this group. This study examines whether other demographic and attitudinal variables cause significant variation in the level of reported satisfaction within a group of African Americans. Specifically, the authors consider whether there is a relationship between an African American citizen's evaluation of their local police and the citizen's age, gender, income, education, marital status, self-reported fear of crime, neighborhood evaluation, and level of contact with the police. Data are taken from a survey of residents in a medium-sized Midwestern community.

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Updated 05/20/2006