Police practices in immigrant-destination cities: Political control or bureaucratic professionalism?

Paul Lewis, S. Karthick Ramakrishnan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


Political incorporation theory suggests that the incorporation of new groups into city electoral politics will precede any improvements in the way that local bureaucracies treat members of those groups. We argue, however, that the logic and sequencing of political incorporation and bureaucratic response do not apply when explaining police practices toward immigrant residents. Drawing on survey evidence and case studies of California cities, we find that police departments are ahead of city councils and other municipal agencies in providing language support and that local elected officials are largely unaware of key practices of their police departments regarding interactions with immigrants. Such findings support the perspective of bureaucratic incorporation of immigrants, in which local bureaucracies proactively develop their own practices, drawing on a professional ethos.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)874-900
Number of pages27
JournalUrban Affairs Review
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jul 2007


  • Bureaucracy
  • Immigrants
  • Police behavior
  • Political incorporation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Urban Studies


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