Sexual and Gender Minorities’ Positive and Negative Experiences with Law Enforcement

Joshua A. Goodman, Tania Israel, Todd Raymond Avellar, Kevin Delucio, Audrey Harkness, Jay N. Bettergarcia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We sought to catalog ways in which law enforcement personnel (LEP) interact with sexual and gender minority (SGM) people and identify LEP behaviors associated with positive and negative SGM experiences. In Study 1, 160 SGM individuals from one community responded to open-ended survey questions in which they described positive and negative experiences with LEP. Qualitative content analysis yielded three categories of positive and six categories of negative characteristics of experiences with LEP. In Study 2, responses from Study 1 were used to develop a 30-item preliminary version of the INDIGO, an inventory of SGM people’s experiences with LEP; the preliminary INDIGO was piloted with 59 participants from selected communities in the nine US Census divisions to gain perspectives of SGM people in a diverse range of geographic and political environments. Participant feedback was used to add and revise inventory items. In Study 3, the revised 51-item INDIGO was tested with a national sample of 394 SGM people to assess characteristics of SGM people’s perceived positive and negative experiences with LEP. Among the most frequently endorsed LEP practices, 10 were significantly associated with positive experiences (e.g., shared information about the legal process) and 14 were significantly associated with negative experiences (e.g., rude, mean, or judgmental demeanor). Exploratory analyses identified four LEP practices that were reported more commonly by SGM people of color compared to White SGM participants. Comparisons of select INDIGO items to attitudes toward LEP items supported concurrent validity of the INDIGO. Implications for training and community policing are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Police and Criminal Psychology
StateAccepted/In press - 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Community policing
  • Law enforcement personnel
  • Police practices

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Law


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