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Police Use of Excessive Force in Disorganized Neighborhoods

NCJ Number
Zachary R. Hays
Date Published
192 pages
This book tests the theory that residents of socially disorganized neighborhoods are more likely to be victimized by both criminals and rogue police officers who use excessive force against residents.
The main objectives of this research are to present a new theoretical explanation for police use-of-force behavior and to determine whether this explanation is empirically viable. Based on the research results, the author concludes that the social-disorganization tradition more generally and the collective efficacy framework in particular are both viable theoretical explanations for the police use of excessive force. Neighborhood social disorganization was related to police officers' use of excessive force, and neighborhood collective efficacy was one of the strongest and most robust predictors among those examined. Based on research findings, the author argues that socially disorganized neighborhoods, especially those with low collective efficacy, are victimized by both criminals and police who use excessive force against residents. This suggests that when neighborhood residents join together in identifying and reporting the abusive actions of rogue officers, these officers may be deterred by their fear of being held accountable by their superiors. Actions that can be taken by police agencies in addressing this circumstance include the closer monitoring of police officers who work in socially disorganized neighborhoods, as well as making it easier for residents to make complaints about police to the appropriate authorities. In examining the association between neighborhood context (e.g., structural conditions, social disorganization, and collective efficacy), as well as between-neighborhood variation in problems with police officers' use of excessive force, data were obtained from Chicago during the 1990s. The study also involved a detailed review of all the theory-driven relevant research that has been published over the last 20 years. The study used multi-level modeling techniques in ways that had not previously been considered. 6 figures, 5 tables, approximately 156 references, a subject index, and an appended survey questionnaire used in a community survey