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Experiences, Expectations, and Satisfaction with Police—a Population-Based Study of Differences by Race and Ethnicity in Two Counties

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Abstract

We used the 2021 Policing in America Survey to examine experiences with police and perceptions of policing in Cook County, IL, and Dallas County, TX. Substantial portions of residents believe that local police use force during at least half of arrests (Cook 45.8%, Dallas 52.2%) and report dissatisfaction with local policing efforts (Cook 49.0%, Dallas 48.5%). Black and Hispanic residents in both communities were more likely than white, non-Hispanic residents to have frequent use of force expectations and dissatisfaction with police. Several other indicators of experiences with and perceptions of police also varied by race and ethnicity. We combined individual-level survey data with neighborhood-level data from the American Community Survey in multilevel logistic regression models to examine differences between groups for primary outcomes. Some findings were consistent for both counties. Black residents (Cook aOR = 3.63; Dallas aOR = 5.07) and those who had witnessed police misconduct were more likely to have frequent use of force expectations (Cook aOR = 6.44; Dallas aOR = 14.91). Differences between Black, Hispanic, and white residents were not associated with dissatisfaction in the adjusted models. Negative experiences with police (Cook aOR = 10.73; Dallas aOR = 12.11), witnessing misconduct (Cook aOR = 3.87; Dallas aOR = 3.55), and feeling unsafe in one’s neighborhood (Cook aOR = 4.56; Dallas aOR = 3.49) were independently associated with greater odds of dissatisfaction. Inequities in exposure to unsafe neighborhoods, witnessing misconduct, and negative interactions with police are key drivers of variation in expectations and perceptions of police. Optimizing transparency and assurances of procedural justice are needed to reduce fear and increase satisfaction with police in the USA.

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Data Availability

The de-identified Policing in America datasets for Cook County and Dallas County are available for public download at https://data.world/policinginamerica.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank our collaborators at Microsoft, Data Foundation, data.world, NORC at the University of Chicago, and SpotCrime for their contributions to the Policing in America Project. The Policing in America Survey was conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago for the Data Foundation and Microsoft. The authors (SW, MM, and AQ) acknowledge indirect funding support for this analysis from Microsoft and Data Foundation via a subcontract with data.world. The funders had no role in the study design, the data collection, the analysis, the decision to publish, or the preparation of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Stacey C. Williams.

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Williams, S.C., Quach, A.M., McMillian, M. et al. Experiences, Expectations, and Satisfaction with Police—a Population-Based Study of Differences by Race and Ethnicity in Two Counties. J Urban Health 100, 1159–1169 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11524-023-00808-w

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