The Road Less Traveled: Citizen Resistance of Police Directives

Kenneth J. Novak, University of Missouri - Kansas City
Bradley W. Smith, Wayne State University
James Frank, University of Cincinnati

While most inquiries into the police-citizen encounter have focused exclusively on understanding officer behavior, the discretionary decisions citizens make have received only scant attention in the empirical research. This paper expands this line of investigation so as to understand why and under what condition citizens resist or submit to police authority. Using data collected from observations of officer-citizen encounters, we examine factors that contribute to citizen resistance to police authority. Results have implications for theories of officer discretion as well as administrators who seek ways to reduce conflict between the police and the public.

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Updated 05/20/2006