Community Accountability Essay

8593 WordsSep 6, 201235 Pages
A growing body of evidence shows that minorities are disproportionately the targets of police brutality, but important theoretical questions about the causes of that inequity remain unanswered. One promising line of research involves structural-level analyses of the incidence of police brutality complaints; however, existing studies do not incorporate variables from alternative theoretical explanations. Drawing on the community accountability hypothesis and the threat hypothesis, we tested the predictions of two prominent structural-level explanations of police brutality in a study of civil rights criminal complaints. The study included cities of 150,000+ population (n = 114). The findings reveal that two community accountability variables — ratio percent Hispanic citizens to percent Hispanic police officers and the presence of citizen review — were related positively to police brutality complaints, partially supporting that perspective. Two threat hypothesis measures of threatening people — percent black and percent Hispanic (in the South-west) — were related positively to complaints, as predicted. The relative degree of support for the two hypotheses is assessed. KEYWORDS: police-community relations; police organization; minority threat; racial discrimination.; Police brutality Belief in equal justice pervades American society. Yet, abiding skepticism prevails among minority citizens. The mistrust expressed by minorities is hardly surprising given their history of differential treatment by agents of criminal justice, a problem that is especially apparent in policeminority relations. Police reactions to minority citizens have long been a focus of scholarly research, and studies in this tradition provide ample evidence of minority disadvantage at the hands of police (e.g., Blauner, 1972; Chambliss, 2001; Feagin, 1991; Holmes, 2000; Irwin, 1985; Myrdal, 1944;

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