Good Cop, Bad Cop

Kevin Lewis

February 12, 2020

Examining the Empirical Realities of Proactive Policing Through Systematic Observations and Computer-Aided Dispatch Data
Cynthia Lum et al.
Police Quarterly, forthcoming


The 2017 National Academies of Sciences (NAS) Committee and Report on Proactive Policing highlighted what we know about the effects of proactive policing practices on crime prevention and police–community relations. However, the evaluation evidence reviewed by the NAS, which largely comes from case studies of carefully managed proactive initiatives, does not provide a basis for estimating how extensively these practices are used or whether they are used in the most effective ways. Accordingly, it is unclear whether police proactivity as practiced on an everyday basis reflects optimal strategies and implementation methods as recommended by the NAS. This study addresses this knowledge gap by analyzing almost 2 million computer-aided dispatch records from four agencies and systematically observing 84 officers for more than 180 hours to better understand the empirical realities of police proactivity. The findings indicate a major difference between the types of proactive interventions supported by research and the practice of everyday police proactivity. Specifically, proactive policing practices are limited in scope and are often implemented in less than optimal ways. A large proportion of proactive activities are also not recorded, rewarded, or supervised, indicating that patrol commanders may have little control over, or awareness of, proactive deployment. From an evidence-based policing perspective, much more effort is needed to record and track proactivity to measure its impacts (both positive and negative) and align it with what we now know about effective proactive activity from research.

Peer-Mentored Community Reentry Reduces Recidivism
Dave Sells et al.
Criminal Justice and Behavior, forthcoming


Most people released from incarceration in the criminal justice system return to prison within 3 years. To improve community reentry, national initiatives have promoted new and revitalized programming, including peer mentorship, though this approach remains largely unstudied. Fifty-five men participated within a pilot randomized controlled trial investigating the effect of peer mentorship upon recidivism. Hierarchical binary logistic regression including recidivism risk, as well as group assignment to either a standard services for community reentry condition or standard services plus peer mentorship condition, showed that those receiving mentorship had significantly lower recidivism. It appears that peer mentorship with a model focus upon early intervention, relationship quality, criminal desistance, social navigation, and gainful citizenship may promote the complex task of early community reentry. Given this pilot’s small sample, future research should confirm this association on a larger scale, enabling longitudinal and treatment component analyses examining the relative contributions of mentorship model factors.

Does contact with the justice system deter or promote future delinquency? Results from a longitudinal study of British adolescent twins
Ryan Motz et al.
Criminology, forthcoming


What impact does formal punishment have on antisocial conduct—does it deter or promote it? The findings from a long line of research on the labeling tradition indicate formal punishments have the opposite‐of‐intended consequence of promoting future misbehavior. In another body of work, the results show support for deterrence‐based hypotheses that punishment deters future misbehavior. So, which is it? We draw on a nationally representative sample of British adolescent twins from the Environmental Risk (E‐Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study to perform a robust test of the deterrence versus labeling question. We leverage a powerful research design in which twins can serve as the counterfactual for their co‐twin, thereby ruling out many sources of confounding that have likely impacted prior studies. The pattern of findings provides support for labeling theory, showing that contact with the justice system — through spending a night in jail/prison, being issued an anti‐social behaviour order (ASBO), or having an official record — promotes delinquency. We conclude by discussing the impact these findings may have on criminologists’ and practitioners’ perspective on the role of the juvenile justice system in society.

'Ban the Box' Policies and Criminal Recidivism
Ryan Sherrard
University of California Working Paper, January 2020


Employment has long been seen as a mechanism for reducing criminal recidivism. As such, many states and municipalities have tried to increase the employment prospects of ex-offenders through "Ban the Box" (BTB) policies, making it illegal to ask about an individual's criminal history on a job application. There are, however, questions as to how effective these policies are at helping ex-offenders successfully stay out of prison. In addition, recent research has shown that BTB policies may lead employers to racially discriminate in hiring. Using administrative prison data, this paper examines the direct effect of BTB policies on rates of criminal recidivism. I find that while BTB policies don't appear to reduce criminal recidivism overall, these policies may be exacerbating racial disparities. In particular, I show that being released into a labor market with a BTB policy is associated with higher rates of recidivism for black ex-offenders, with little to no effect for white ex-offenders. This result is robust to a number of specifications and sub-samples.

Considering violence against police by citizen race/ethnicity to contextualize representation in officer-involved shootings
John Shjarback & Justin Nix
Journal of Criminal Justice, forthcoming

Methods: Odds ratios comparing white and African-American as well as white and Hispanic differences were calculated using three separate datasets: The Washington Post's counts of fatal officer-involved shootings, fatal and injurious officer-involved shootings in Texas, and all firearm discharges by officers in California.

Results: African-Americans were not more likely than whites to be fatally shot nationally or shot and injured/killed by police in Texas based on the benchmarks used. However, African-Americans were more likely than whites to be shot at by California police.

Good Cop, Bad Cop: Race-Based Differences in Mental Representations of Police
Paige Lloyd et al.
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming


The current work investigates race-based biases in conceptualization of the facial appearance of police. We employ a reverse correlation procedure to demonstrate that Black Americans, relative to White Americans, conceptualize police officers’ faces as more negative, less positive, and more dominant. We further find that these differential representations have implications for interactions with police. When naïve participants (of various races) viewed images of police officers generated by Black Americans (relative to those generated by White Americans), they responded with greater anticipated anxiety and reported more fight-or-flight behavioral intentions. Across four studies, findings suggest Black and White Americans conceptualize police and police–citizen interactions fundamentally differently. These findings have important theoretical (e.g., using reverse correlation to document the mental representations held by minority group members) and practical implications (e.g., identifying race-based differences in representations of police that may affect community–police relations).

Police Response to Active Shooter Events: How Officers See Their Role
Scott Phillips
Police Quarterly, forthcoming


“Active shooter” incidents and the police response to them receive considerable attention. There is a public expectation that officers should immediately enter active shooter events and engage the suspects. To explore how POLICE view their role in active shooter events, a vignette research design was used to gather opinion data from a convenience sample of police officers in two states. Respondents who evaluated vignettes describing a police officer’s response to an active shooter scenario clearly preferred options other than immediately entering the building. Policy implications and directions for future research are discussed.

Not All School Shootings are the Same and the Differences Matter
Phillip Levine & Robin McKnight
NBER Working Paper, February 2020


This paper examines student exposure to school shootings in the United States since the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School. We analyze shootings that occurred during school hours on a school day and resulted in a death. These shootings are likely to be uniformly reported and have a greater potential to cause harm – either directly or indirectly – to enrolled students. We measure the number and characteristics of children who were exposed to them, along with measures of the economic and social environment in which these shootings occur. We distinguish between indiscriminate shootings, suicides, personal attacks and crime-related shootings. The primary finding of our analysis is the importance of separating these types of shootings. Indiscriminate shootings and suicides more commonly affect white students, schools in more rural locations, and those in locations where incomes are higher. The opposite geographic and socioeconomic patterns are apparent for personal attacks and crime-related shootings. Analyses that ignore these distinctions or focus on a particular type may provide a misleading impression of the nature of school shootings. Policy discussions regarding approaches to reducing school shootings should take these distinctions into account.

Community-driven disorder reduction: Crime prevention through a clean and green initiative in a legacy city
Jesenia Pizarro et al.
Urban Studies, forthcoming


This study examines the effects of a neighbourhood greening and beautification strategy called Clean & Green on crime prevention and reduction. Point level data for all Part I index crimes and Clean & Green efforts in the study area from 2005 to 2014 are analysed using spatial and linear regression with two key modifications: (1) controlling for temporal and spatial dependencies between points; and (2) allowing for potentially non-linear temporal trends in the effect of cumulative greening. To accommodate those modifications, generalised additive models (GAMs) were employed. The analyses of violent and property crimes suggest that greening efforts are increasingly protective over time. The findings demonstrate that the elimination of blight and disorder via neighbourhood greening and beautification efforts can be an effective tool for crime prevention and control in communities.

State-Level Changes in Firearm Laws and Workplace Homicide Rates: United States, 2011 to 2017
Erika Sabbath, Summer Sherburne Hawkins & Christopher Baum
American Journal of Public Health, February 2020, Pages 230-236

Methods: In this time-series ecological study of working people in all 50 US states, we used federal data on workplace homicides by state and year from 2011 to 2017, linked to an index of state–year firearm laws, to characterize the regulatory environment (overall and within legislative categories). We used generalized linear regression to model associations between changes in firearm laws and changes in workplace homicide rates the following year.

Results: From 2011 to 2017, more than 3000 people died as a result of workplace homicides; over that period, 23 states strengthened firearm regulations and 23 weakened them. We modeled the impact of states strengthening laws within the interquartile range (IQR; equivalent to adding 20.5 firearm laws). This change was associated with a 3.7% reduction in the workplace homicide rate (95% confidence interval [CI] = −3.86, −3.51). Positive IQR changes in specific categories of firearm laws — concealed carry permitting (−5.79%; 95% CI = −6.09, −3.51), domestic violence–related restrictions (−5.31%; 95% CI = −5.57, −5.05), and background checks (−5.07%; 95% CI = −5.32, −4.82) — were also associated with significant reductions.

Initiation Age, Cumulative Prevalence, and Longitudinal Patterns of Handgun Carrying Among Rural Adolescents: A Multistate Study
Ali Rowhani-Rahbar, Sabrina Oesterle & Martie Skinner
Journal of Adolescent Health, forthcoming

Methods: We used data from the control arm of the Community Youth Development Study, a community-randomized controlled trial of the Communities That Care prevention system. Annually, 1,039 males and 963 females were surveyed from Grade 6 (2005) to age 19 years (2012) in 12 rural towns across seven U.S. states.

Results: In Grade 6, 11.5% of males and 2.8% of females reported past-year handgun carrying. Between Grade 6 and age 19 years, 33.7% of males and 9.6% of females reported handgun carrying at least once. Among participants who ever reported handgun carrying, 34.0% of males and 29.3% of females did so for the first time in Grade 6. Among participants who ever reported handgun carrying, 54.6% of males and 71.7% of females did so only one time over the seven study assessments. Greater proportions of participants who reported handgun carrying than those who did not do so endorsed prohandgun norms and had a peer who carried among both males (Grade 10: prevalence difference = 57%; 95% CI: 46%–67%) and females (Grade 10: prevalence difference = 45%; 95% CI: 12%–78%).

Family, Parochial, and Public Levels of Social Control and Recidivism: An Extension of the Systemic Model of Social Disorganization
Lin Liu
Crime & Delinquency, forthcoming


Although offenders’ individual-level characteristics such as attenuated family bonds and financial difficulty undermine the reentry process, these factors represent only part of the story. A complete and comprehensive understanding of reentry requires us to examine the communities to which they return. This study applies the systemic model of social disorganization theory to the reentry context. Specifically, I access the roles of private, parochial, and public levels of social control in individuals’ reentry. Findings suggest that when analyzed in separate models, all three levels of social control exhibited significant effects on recidivism. However, when accessed simultaneously in one model, private and public levels of social control but not community social control exhibited significant effects on individuals’ recidivism.

Does it matter if those who matter don't mind? Effects of gang versus delinquent peer group membership on labeling processes
Molly Buchanan & Marvin Krohn
Criminology, forthcoming


Despite renewed interests in the labeling perspective and the impact of official intervention on individuals’ future outcomes, scant attention has been given to potential conditioning factors for theorized labeling processes. We argue that, when viewed through a symbolic interactionist lens, variations in the nature of primary social groups, through which individuals filter official labels like arrest, may generate patterns for subsequent self‐concept and delinquency that are contrary to what labeling theory indicates. To test our rationale, we offer a moderated mediation model in which gang membership is expected to differentially impact the effect of arrest on future delinquency through an intermediary mechanism: self‐esteem. We test a gang–nongang dichotomy and then probe further to test whether hypothesized effects are gang specific or occur similarly for nongang youths with highly delinquent peer groups. Analyzed using Rochester Youth Development Study (RYDS) data (N = 961), comparisons between gang members and nonaffiliated youths with similarly highly delinquent peer groups revealed no significant differences in conditional indirect effects of arrest on self‐esteem and future delinquency; the two groups were similarly insulated from any negative impact of arrest on self‐esteem. For nongang youths with fewer delinquent peers, however, arrest significantly reduced later self‐esteem, which in turn increased their future delinquency.

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