The Impact of Situational Officer, and Neighborhood Characteristics on Police Behavior: A Multilevel Analysis

Ivan Y. Sun, Old Dominion University
Brian K. Payne, Old Dominion University

ABSTRACT
This study examines the relationships between situational characteristics and police law enforcement, order-maintenance and service behavior within officers as well as the impact of officer and neighborhood characteristics on the variability in the relationships between situational characteristics and police behavior. Observational and survey data from the Project on Policing Neighborhoods (POPN) and the 1990 census data were used and a set of hierarchical linear models were estimated. Findings show variation exists among officers regarding their preference for law enforcement, order maintenance, and service behaviors and situational characteristics play a strong role in determining law enforcement and order maintenance behavior, but not service activities. Also, socially disadvantaged neighborhoods are more prone to receive law enforcement activities than other neighborhoods are. Implications for policy and future research are discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006