, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 391-418

Global and Neighborhood Attitudes Toward the Police: Differentiation by Race, Ethnicity and Type of Contact

Abstract

This study focused on a series of hypotheses regarding residents’ attitudes toward the police: (1) residents’ attitudes toward the police are better represented by a two-dimensional model that differentiates global perceptions of the police from assessments of the police in the respondents’ neighborhood; (2) the structure of residents’ attitudes toward the police is different for Whites, African Americans, and Latinos; (3) direct experiences with the police in the respondents’ neighborhood will be more strongly associated with the respondents’ assessment of police in their neighborhood than global perceptions of the police; and (4) the influence of direct experiences with the police will be stronger for African Americans and Latinos than for Whites. Results based on structural equation modeling offer strong support for the need to differentiate between global and neighborhood perceptions of the police. The underlining measurement structure of attitudes toward the police was similar for Whites, African Americans, and Latinos. However, the relationship between global and neighborhood attitudes was stronger for African Americans and Latinos. Negative contact with the police was associated with both negative global and neighborhood assessments of the police. Non-negative contact was associated with positive neighborhood perceptions of the police; however, only when it occurred within the neighborhood. The influence of direct experiences with the police (both inside and outside the neighborhood) was similar for Whites, African Americans, and Latinos.