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Controlling Suburban and Small-Town Hoods: An Examination of Police Encounters with Juveniles

NCJ Number
Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice Volume: 5 Issue: 2 Dated: April 2007 Pages: 107-124
John Liederbach
Date Published
April 2007
18 pages
This study provided a systematic description of police-juvenile encounters in small towns and suburban jurisdictions.
Results of this study provide several points of discussion. First, police-juvenile encounters in nonurban jurisdictions appeared to be similar in some respects to those that occurred in urbanized central cities, particularly in terms of the types of offenses that officers typically confronted with juveniles. Encounters with nonurban juveniles almost always involved offenses that were of low seriousness and nonviolent. Traffic-related offenses were found to be the most commonly confronted problem in police-juvenile encounters. In addition to the prevalence of traffic-related encounters, evidence suggests that encounters between police and juveniles in nonurban places may be less problematic and “tension filled” than those described in previous research. Research currently lacks systematic observational data concerning street-level interactions between police and juveniles in nonurban jurisdictions. Using systematic social observation (SSO) methods, this study examined the nature and character of police encounters with juveniles age 13 to 17 years in 20 suburban and small-town jurisdictions, such as the types of problems encountered by nonurban officers with juveniles, the actions taken by officers to resolve these problems, and the discretionary decisionmaking of officers in arrest situations involving juveniles. Tables, notes, and references