Race, Ethnicity, and Perceived Minority Police Presence: Examining Perceptions of Criminal Injustice Among Los Angeles Residents

Xia Wang, Justin Ready, Garth Davies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Although the conventional wisdom holds that increasing the number of minority officers will enhance residents' perceptions of police and the criminal justice system, further systematic investigation of this hypothesis may be needed. Building on the group-position thesis, the representative bureaucracy theory, and prior research, this study investigates whether perceived minority police presence within residents' neighborhoods affects residents' perceptions of criminal injustice, whether this effect is more pronounced for minority residents and in minority neighborhoods, and whether perceived minority police presence has a stronger effect on perceptions of criminal injustice for minority residents in more integrated and white neighborhoods than minority residents in minority neighborhoods. Analyses of data collected from Los Angeles, CA, show that residents perceive a lower level of criminal injustice when they report that officers in their neighborhoods are not white-dominated, and this finding is not dependent on the respondent's race/ethnicity or the racial/ethnic composition of the neighborhood. In addition, perceived minority police presence seems to have a weak to no effect on residents' perceptions of criminal injustice for Hispanic communities. We discuss these findings and their implications for theory, research, and policy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)706-739
Number of pages34
JournalLaw and Society Review
Volume53
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law

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