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Chinese Immigrants' Perceptions of the Police in Toronto Canada Research Paper by Doris C Chu and John Huey Long Song

Chinese Immigrants' Perceptions of the Police in Toronto Canada Research Paper by Doris C Chu and John Huey Long Song

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Published by Paisley Rae
An empirical assessment of Chinese immigrants' perceptions of the police in Toronto, Canada.
293 Surveys conducted with Chinese immigrants who participated in various community service organizations in TO between March and May 2005.
Individuals who had previous contact with police rated police less favourably than those who had not had contact with police in the past.
People who rated police as helpful when they called for assistance expressed a higher degree of respect for police. Poor communication was a significant predictor of Chinese immigrants' perception of police prejudice. Majority of respondent expressed concern that more bilingual police are needed in the city.
An empirical assessment of Chinese immigrants' perceptions of the police in Toronto, Canada.
293 Surveys conducted with Chinese immigrants who participated in various community service organizations in TO between March and May 2005.
Individuals who had previous contact with police rated police less favourably than those who had not had contact with police in the past.
People who rated police as helpful when they called for assistance expressed a higher degree of respect for police. Poor communication was a significant predictor of Chinese immigrants' perception of police prejudice. Majority of respondent expressed concern that more bilingual police are needed in the city.

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Published by: Paisley Rae on Mar 19, 2013
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Chinese immigrants’ perceptionsof the police in Toronto, Canada
Doris C. Chu
 Department of Criminology, Sociology, and Geography, Arkansas State University, Jonesboro, Arkansas, USA, and 
 John Huey-Long Song
Criminal Justice Department, State University of New York, Buffalo, New York, USA
Abstract
Purpose
– The purpose of this paper is to assess empirically Chinese immigrants’ perceptions of thepolice in Toronto, Canada.
Design/methodology/approach
– Data were analyzed based on 293 surveys conducted withChinese immigrants who participated in various community service organizations in Toronto, Canada,between March and May 2005. Ordinary least squares and ordered logit regressions are used for theanalysis.
Findings
– The paper shows that individuals who had previous contact with police rated police lessfavorably than those who had not had contact with police in the past. In general, people who ratedpolice as helpful when they called them for assistance expressed a higher degree of respect for police.In addition, poor communication was a significant predictor of Chinese immigrants’ perception of police prejudice. Finally, a majority of respondents expressed the concern that more bilingual policewere needed in the city.
Research limitations/implications
– As with any study utilizing a non-probability sample, caremust be taken to avoid generalizing the findings to all Chinese immigrants in Toronto. Since thesample was taken from participants of various community service organizations in Toronto, thefindings may not be appropriate to generalize to the other constituencies in the Chinese community,such as young people.
Practicalimplications
The paper highlights the need for improving the quality of police services,recruiting more bilingual officers (or officers from their communities), strengthening police training inracial and cultural diversity, and reducing communication barriers to improve Chinese immigrants’evaluations of the police.
Originality/value
This research is the first to specifically examine Chinese communities’perceptions of law enforcement in Canada. Law enforcement can utilize these findings to improve theirservices and address the Chinese community’s concerns; not only can this promote the police-citizensrelationship, but it can also encourage the Chinese community’s participation in a crime reductionpartnership.
Keywords
Immigrants, Perception, Police, Canada
Paper type
Research paper
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
www.emeraldinsight.com/1363-951X.htm
The authors would liketo thank the Editor and anonymous reviewers for their helpful commentson an earlier draft of this article. Special thanks go to Henry Liu at
Sing-Tao Daily Newspaper 
,Mary Song, and Mary Donaghy.An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2005 Annual Meeting of the AmericanSociety of Criminology in Toronto.
PIJPSM31,4
610
Received 24 September 2007Revised 2 December 2007Accepted 24 February 2008
Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & ManagementVol. 31 No. 4, 2008pp. 610-630
q
Emerald Group Publishing Limited1363-951XDOI 10.1108/13639510810910599
 
Introduction
With the emergence of community policing around the globe, fostering goodpolice-community relations has become a primary focus for many police departments.One of the important tenets in community policing is to make police departments moreresponsive to community needs (Goldstein, 1987). For effective policing, citizens’perceptions of the police are important, as public distrust of them may impair thepolice’s ability to control crime. People who are dissatisfied with the police are lesslikely to provide police with crime-related information and more reluctant to cooperatewith the police, which would diminish the police’s effectiveness in controlling crime(Decker, 1985; Brown and Benedict, 2002). Policing communities that contain largenumbers of immigrants is challenging. Many immigrants come to their adoptedcountries having had negative experiences with police in their native countries (Davis,2000; Pogrebin and Poole, 1990). Language barriers, along with past perceptions of thepolice, may negatively impact their attitudes and judgment toward the police in theiradopted country (Davis, 2000). In a multi-ethnic metropolitan city with large numbersof immigrants, such as Toronto, it can be a challenge for the police administration togain cooperation and deliver effective services for those diverse communities.With growing numbers of Chinese immigrants in Canada in recent years(approximately 800,000 immigrants arrived between 1980 and 2000), Chinese havebecome the largest group of immigrants into Canada (Wang and Lo, 2004). Amongthese recent Chinese immigrants, most (about 40 percent) have chosen to settle inToronto, Ontario, which has an area of 243.2 square miles. According to the 2004revised figures of Statistics Canada 2001, the City of Toronto has a population of 2.5million people; the metropolitan area of Toronto (Greater Toronto) has more than 5.5million people. The 259,710 Chinese comprise the largest immigrant group in the city(10.6 percent of the population), followed by East Indians (253,920 population, 10.3percent of the city population), Blacks, including persons from the West Indies (204,075population, 8.3 percent of the city population), and Filipinos (86,460 population, 3.5percent of the city population) (Statistics Canada, 2004).The City of Toronto’s Chinese population has increased continuously over the pasttwo decades. The Chinese community has become an important sector in Canadiansociety. Today, the Chinese are dispersed throughout the metropolitan area of Toronto.Outside downtown Toronto, Scarborough has the largest enclave of Chineseimmigrants. Other cities such as Markham and Mississauga have also experiencedsizable influxes of Chinese immigrants.It is challenging to police a city with multicultural and multiethnic communitiessuch as Toronto. Currently, the City of Toronto has 5,376 uniformed police (TorontoPolice Service, 2007b). Toronto police have long devoted their efforts to communitypolicing, as witnessed by a variety of community policing programs they provided fortheir communities, such as the Empowered Student Partnerships program (ESP), thePublic Education and Crime Eradication (PEACE) Project, and the NewcomerOutreach Program (Toronto Police Service, 2007a).Nevertheless, with the dramatic demographic changes brought by immigration inthe past decades, the police now face new and more difficult challenges (Stenning,2003). With the large recent influx of Chinese immigrants to the city, there is an urgentneed for effective policing in those communities. To the best of our knowledge, there is
Chineseimmigrants’perceptions
611
 
no research that specifically examines the Chinese communities’ perceptions of lawenforcement in Canada.Different historical backgrounds and cultures raise difficulties with regard toeffectively surveying Chinese perceptions of law enforcement, which may explain whythis ethnic group has been under-studied in this area. Language and culturaldifferences may generate problems in police-community relationships for Chinese thatare different from problems for other ethnic minority groups, such as Blacks andHispanics. It can be a challenge for the criminal justice system to address the needs of and provide efficient services for those culturally diverse communities. Thus, this kindof research is important because the law enforcement community can utilize thesefindings to improve their services and address the Chinese community’s concerns; notonly can this promote the police-citizens relationship, but it can also encourage theChinese community’s participation in a crime reduction partnership.In an attempt to bridge the gap in previous research, this study uses a surveyformat to examine Chinese immigrants’ perceptions of the police in Toronto, Canada. Itaims to contribute to a better understanding of how Chinese immigrants perceive thepolice. This study begins with a literature review of perceptions of the police, followedby the delineation of the dimensions that measure Chinese immigrants’ perceptions of the police. Multivariate regression analyses are then performed to assess Chineseimmigrantsperceptions of the police in three dimensions. Finally, promisingdirections for future research and policy implications are discussed.
Literature review
“Relations between the police and minority groups are a continuing problem in theUnited States and other multiracial societies” (Weitzer and Tuch, 2004, p. 305). Thecharge that police exercise their discretion to selectively target certain minority groupshas existed not only in Britain, but also in the USA and Canada (Waddington
et al.
,2004). In October of 2002, the
Toronto Star 
published a series of articles on thecontroversial topic regarding Toronto police’s engagement in racial profiling(Melchers, 2003). The topic of “police and ethnic minorities” has sparked a renewedinterest for academic and public debate in Canada.Police interest in public opinion surveys has increased tremendously around theglobe as police administrations began recognizing the critical role of public perceptionsof and attitudes toward police as a determinant of police effectiveness (Beck
et al.
,1999). Using surveys as an interactive tool to explore citizens’ attitudes and theperceptions of citizens from different ethnic population sectors toward police hasbecome much more popular in recent years.After conducting a review of numerous studies of perceptions of the police, Brownand Benedict (2002) noted that the predictors of perceptions of the police in past studieshave primarily focused on individual variables (e.g. race, gender, age, and contact andexperience with the police), contextual variables (neighborhoods’ characteristics andvictimization), and other factors (e.g. police policy, community policing, and police useof force).Race, in particular, has been the focus of a number of studies that examineperceptions of the police. Different ethnic groups may have differing values, beliefs,and thus have varying expectations of legal authority. Understanding the experiencewith and perceptions of the police among different ethnic groups may help the legal
PIJPSM31,4
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