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Race, Place, and Drug Enforcement: Reconsidering the Impact of Citizen Complaints and Crime Rates on Drug Arrests

NCJ Number
Criminology & Public Policy Volume: 11 Issue: 4 Dated: November 2012 Pages: 601-635
Robin S. Engel; Michael R. Smith; Francis T. Cullen
Date Published
November 2012
35 pages
This study examined racial disparities in drug arrests in two different drug markets in Seattle, WA.
Highlights of findings from this study on racial disparity in drug arrests in Seattle, WA, include the following: when looking at the representation of different ethnic groups among arrestees citywide, the findings indicate statistically insignificant differences within the two drug markets examined; when compared with calls for service (CFS) data, Blacks and Hispanics were not overrepresented among drug arrestees; Blacks and Hispanics were less likely to be arrested compared to Whites based on comparisons of citizen complaints of drug activity; and in the Downtown drug market, Blacks and Whites were both arrested at nearly the same rate to what would be expected based on citizen complaints about drug activity. This study reexamined racial disparities in drug arrests in two drug markets in Seattle, WA, using new data, measures, and methods from a previous study. Data for this study were obtained from three sources at the Seattle Police Department: drug arrests, drug-related citizen calls for service, and reported crimes. The data was analyzed to the extent that minorities were over or underrepresented in arrests for drug charges. The findings indicate that Blacks and Hispanics are either evenly represented or underrepresented among drug arrestees, and that a moderate to strong association exists between drug arrests, drug-related calls for service, and reported crimes. Policy implications are discussed. Tables, figures, and references


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