American Journal of Criminal Justice

, Volume 43, Issue 3, pp 668–693 | Cite as

Perceptions of the Police by LGBT Communities

  • Stephen S. OwenEmail author
  • Tod W. Burke
  • April L. Few-Demo
  • Jameson Natwick


The purpose of this study is to explore how lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities perceive the police. Historically, relationships between LGBT communities and the police have been strained due to a legacy of discriminatory actions, although some police agencies have more recently taken steps to build relationships with LGBT communities. A survey was administered to a sample of LGBT and heterosexual respondents (n = 787) to measure perceptions regarding police fairness, policing qualities, policing outcomes, and police interactions with LGBT communities. Across a number of measures and scales, the perceptions of LGBT participants were significantly more negative than those of other participants, including when the variables of race, income, location type (e.g., rural, small town, suburban, urban), prior service as a police officer, and quality of prior interactions with the police, are controlled in multivariate modeling. Implications for police training and policy are discussed, as well as theoretical contexts that frame the results.


LGBT Perceptions of police Public opinion Sexual orientation Transgender 



No funding was utilized in this study.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the appropriate institutional review boards and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Southern Criminal Justice Association 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen S. Owen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tod W. Burke
    • 1
  • April L. Few-Demo
    • 2
  • Jameson Natwick
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Criminal JusticeRadford UniversityRadfordUSA
  2. 2.Department of Human Development and Family ScienceVirginia TechBlacksburgUSA

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