Police Response to Assault: Differences in the Application of Law by Race

Amanda Howerton, University of New Hampshire

Based on victim accounts provided by the National Crime Victimization Survey from 1992-1999, this paper examined issues related to police responses to reported incidents of assault. The primary goals were to determine the extent to which victim and offender race have an effect on police responsiveness at various stages of the criminal justice system, and, to what extent is police responsiveness explained by using the social dimensions outlined in Donald Black's theory of law.

A scale of Total Police Effort was designed from the following items: (1) police response time to the science (2) effort exerted by police at the scene, (3) subsequent effort exerted by police. A multiple regression analysis was performed to examine the relationship between Police Effort and victim and offender race. The data indicates that overall, police utilize more effort when whites are the victims -- they arrive faster at the scence of the crime, and demonstrate more follow-up effort after the crime has taken place. However, they do not exert more of less effort during their initial visit to the crime scence. This relationship held even after controlling for other factors such asd poverty, weapon use, injury to the victim, and location.

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Updated 05/20/2006