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Multiple Dimensions of Trust in Resident/Police Relations in Boston

NCJ Number
Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency Volume: 38 Issue: 3 Dated: August 2001 Pages: 226-256
Sara E. Stoutland
Date Published
August 2001
31 pages
This article examines the nature of trust in relations between residents and police in Boston, MA.
The article attempts to determine what it is about resident/police relations in poor urban communities that results in many community members' deep distrust of police. The article uses a framework of the "four trust questions" to analyze the complexities of community members' perceptions of police and police action aimed at reducing youth violence in Boston's high-crime neighborhoods. To differentiate residents' multiple -- and sometimes conflicting -- expectations of police, the article divides trust into four questions about priorities, competence, dependability, and respectfulness. The article is based on more than 50 qualitative interviews with youth ages 13 to 24, parents or adult caretakers of youth ages 13 to 25, and professional youth workers or frontline staff of community organizations who work with youth on a daily basis. Many residents considered that police met their expectations of competence and dependability but not of shared priorities or respect. Respect, in particular was important to residents, although they recognized a tension between police acting competently and respectfully. Table, notes, references