Policing, Crime and Legitimacy in New York and Los Angeles: The Social and Political Contexts of Two Historic Crime Declines
59 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2012
Date Written: August 21, 2012
The relationship between citizens and police occupies a central place both in urban politics and in the political economy of cities. In this respect, for nearly 50 years, New York and Los Angeles have been bellwethers for many of the nation’s larger cities. In each city, as in cities across the world, citizens look to police to protect them from crime, maintain social order, respond to a variety of extra-legal community concerns, and reinforce the moral order of the law by apprehending offenders and helping bring them to justice (Reiss, 1971; Black, 1980; Skogan and Frydl, 2004). Beyond enforcing social and political order, the police are the front line representatives of a variety of social service needs in communities (Walker, 1992). Accordingly, policing is an amenity of urban places that shapes how citizens regard their neighborhood and their city, and in turn, the extent to which citizens see their local institutions as responsive and reliable (Skogan, 2006). Effective and sustainable governance, especially when it comes to public safety, depends on the capacity of the institutions of criminal justice to provide “value” that leverages legitimacy and cooperation among its citizens (Moore et al., 2002; Skogan and Frydl, 2004; Tyler and Fagan, 2008; Tyler, 2010).
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