Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 93, Supplement 1, pp 42–67 | Cite as

Collateral Damage: The Health Effects of Invasive Police Encounters in New York City

  • Abigail A. SewellEmail author
  • Kevin A. Jefferson


The health effects of police surveillance practices for the community at-large are unknown. Using microlevel health data from the 2009–2012 New York City Community Health Survey (NYC-CHS) nested within mesolevel data from the 2009–2012 NYC Stop, Question, and Frisk (NYC-SQF) dataset, this study evaluates contextual and ethnoracially variant associations between invasive aspects of pedestrian stops and multiple dimensions of poor health. Results reveal that living in neighborhoods where pedestrian stops are more likely to become invasive is associated with worse health. Living in neighborhoods where stops are more likely to result in frisking show the most consistent negative associations. More limited deleterious effects can be attributed to living in neighborhoods where stops are more likely to involve use of force or in neighborhoods with larger ethnoracial disparities in frisking or use of force. However, the health effects of pedestrian stops vary by ethnoracial group in complex ways. For instance, minorities who live in neighborhoods with a wider ethno racial disparity in police behavior have poorer health outcomes in most respects, but blacks have lower odds of diabetes when they live in neighborhoods where they face a higher risk that a stop will involve use of force by police than do whites. The findings suggest that the consequences of the institutionalization of the carceral state are far-reaching.


Health Police Neighborhoods New York City Race Ethnicity Health disparities 



This work was conducted while the first author was a Vice Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Population Studies Center at the University of Pennsylvania


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Copyright information

© The New York Academy of Medicine 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Emory UniversityAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA

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