A Tale of Force: Examining Policy Proposals to Address the Issue of Police Violence
PREPRINT forthcoming paper in Social Currents.
43 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2020 Last revised: 23 Apr 2021
Date Written: June 17, 2020
President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing recommended that police forces increase officer demographic diversity, raise educational requirements for new officers, and implement community policing strategies. The purpose of these recommendations was to reduce police violence and improve police-community relationships, particularly relationships with minority communities. After reviewing prior research on these proposals, we estimate cross-sectional models regressing police department use of force counts on indicators of community policing, officer education, and officer racial and gender diversity to examine the baseline plausibility of these recommendations. We find that police forces with more college-educated officers are less violent toward citizens, but that the race and sex compositions of law enforcement organizations are not associated with the level of police violence. Ironically, most indicators of community policing are associated with more police violence, only a higher proportion of community beat officers is associated with significantly lower levels of police violence.
Keywords: race, gender, education, policing, use of force, criminal justice, police reform, law enforcement, community policing
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