Racial Threat, Social (Dis)organization, and the Ecology of Police: Towards a Macro-level Understanding of Police Use-of-force in Communities of Color

Rachel Lautenschlager, Marisa Omori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

In this paper, we examine use-of-force incidents as neighborhood processes to understand how rates and levels of use-of-force vary across New York City. We suggest that there are two distinct outcomes of force by the police: number of use-of-force incidents and level of force. Applying theories of racial threat, social disorganization, and Klinger’s ecological theory of policing, we conceptualize use-of-force as a neighborhood phenomenon rather than individual events. Our results suggest that rates and levels of force operate in some distinct ways. In particular, while we find that use-of-force is concentrated in Black neighborhoods, and is also more severe in Black neighborhoods, neighborhoods with higher racial and ethnic heterogeneity have decreasing force incidents, but with increasing severity. This may reflect different types of policing, with high rates of low-level police harassment occurring in primarily poorer, Black neighborhoods, and more isolated but severe incidents occurring in middle-income and wealthier mixed neighborhoods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJustice Quarterly
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018

Keywords

  • criminological theory
  • neighborhoods
  • Police
  • use-of-force

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law

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