Crime and Delinquency, 45 (No. 4, November 2008), 398-428. (with Ronald
Weitzer and Steven A. Tuch).
Minority racial and ethnic groups often view themselves as targets of abusive
treatment at the hands of the police. Although racial variation in public assessments of
the police in the United States has been amply documented in past research, less
research has explored the sources of these differences at the intersection of
demographic, interactional, and ecological levels. This paper examines the role of each
factor in shaping citizens’ perceptions of police misconduct, racial differences in these
perceptions, and the reasons underlying them. The locus of the study is also important.
Most research on police-community relations has been conducted in cities whose
populations and police departments are majority-white in composition, despite the
growing number of minority-white cities. The present study draws on data from
residents of a majority-black city with a majority-black police department: Washington,
DC. The findings contribute to our understanding of policing in such under-researched