Recent Police Killings in the United States: A Three-City Comparison

Police Quarterly, 2018

Posted: 28 Dec 2017 Last revised: 28 Aug 2018

See all articles by Angela Lee

Angela Lee

Independent

Ronald Weitzer

George Washington University - Department of Sociology

Daniel Martinez

University of Arizona - Department of Sociology

Date Written: January 27, 2018

Abstract

Recent police killings of citizens in the United States have attracted massive coverage in the media, large-scale public protests, and demands for reform of police departments throughout the country. This study is based on a content analysis of news-paper coverage of recent high-profile incidents that resulted in a citizen’s death in Ferguson, North Charleston, and Baltimore. We identify both incident-specific con-tent as well as more general patterns that transcend the three cases. News media coverage of similar incidents in past decades tended to be episodic and favored the police perspective. Our findings point to some important departures from this paradigm. Reporting in our three cases was more likely to draw connections between discrete incidents, to attach blame to the police, and to raise questions about the systemic causes of police misconduct. These findings may be corroborated in future studies of news media representations of high-profile policing incidents elsewhere.

Suggested Citation

Lee, Angela and Weitzer, Ronald and Martinez, Daniel, Recent Police Killings in the United States: A Three-City Comparison (January 27, 2018). Police Quarterly, 2018, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3092376

Angela Lee

Independent ( email )

Ronald Weitzer

George Washington University - Department of Sociology ( email )

United States

Daniel Martinez (Contact Author)

University of Arizona - Department of Sociology ( email )

United States

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