U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Organizational, Administrative, and Environmental Correlates of Complaints About Police Use of Force: Does Minority Representation Matter?

NCJ Number
Crime & Delinquency Volume: 55 Issue: 1 Dated: January 2009 Pages: 3-27
Matthew J. Hickman; Alex R. Piquero
Date Published
January 2009
25 pages
This study examined citizen complaints about police use of force.
Minority representation among police personnel, relative to the communities they serve, has long been advanced as an explanatory factor for the prevalence of negative policepublic interactions as well as police agency responsiveness to public concerns, particularly with regard to the use of force. But minority representation has rarely been studied empirically and on a large scale. The present study examined minority representation and additional organizational, administrative, and environmental correlates of citizen complaints about police use of force in 496 large municipal police departments. Data were drawn from the 2003 Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics (LEMAS) survey administered by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Results indicate that (a) rates of force complaints were higher among agencies having greater spatial differentiation, internal affairs units, and higher violent crime rates; (b) the percentage of complaints sustained was higher among agencies characterized by greater formalization and lower where collective bargaining was authorized for officers; and (c) minority representation was unrelated to complaint rates nor to the percentage of complaints sustained. Implications for the policing literature as well as future refinements for the LEMAS survey are discussed. (Published Abstract)