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Running head: THE POLICING OF JUVENILES

Concept Paper
The Policing of Juveniles in Identified Rural Areas of
Texas and Mississippi: A Replication Study
Rochelle E. Cobbs
College of Juvenile Justice & Psychology
Prairie View A&M University
April 16, 2012

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Running head: THE POLICING OF JUVENILES
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The Policing of Juveniles in Identified Rural Areas of Mississippi and Texas: A Replication
Study
The focus of this study is the examination of contemporary police response/behavior to
juvenile offending/interactions in the rural areas of two states, namely Mississippi and Texas. To
accomplish this objective, a replication of a previous study design which examined police
response/behavior to juvenile offending in the urban areas of Indianapolis, Minnesota and St.
Petersburg, Florida will be undertaken. Purposely, this study will focus on the use of force and
the provision of support and assistance by police when encountering juveniles at the street level.
Specifically, like Myers (2004), this proposed study will examine the relationship between two
types of behavior (the use of authority and the provision of support and assistance), the attitude
and characteristics of police officers, and the situational factors that officers are confronted with
when encountering juvenile suspects on the street. Therefore, the same three sets of summaries
of hypotheses/expectations, which Myers (2004)’s study design tested will also be tested in the
proposed study to determine if its’ findings support or negate that of Myers, are delineated
below:
Summary of Hypotheses/Expectations for Personal and Background
Characteristics of Officers:
“Use of Authority
Sex -- It is expected that female officers will utilize less authority and take
fewer authoritative actions than their male counterparts.
Race – It is expected that minority officers will be less likely to take
authoritative actions (and less likely to make arrests) than their white
counterparts.
Training – It is expected that officers with more training on specific topics
that might expand their repertoire of responses, like concepts and principles
of community policing, will be less likely to take more authoritative actions

Running head: THE POLICING OF JUVENILES
than officers without or with less training.
Length of Service - It is expected that as officer length of service increases
they will be less likely to take more authoritative actions.
Education - It is expected that college educated officers will use less authority
and be less likely to take authoritative actions than officers without college
educations.
Community Policing Assignment - It is expected that officers who are
Community specialists will be less likely to resort to authoritative actions than
patrol officers.
Provision of Support/Assistance
Sex --It is expected that female officers will be more likely to offer some form
of support and assistance, and that they will be more likely to take supportive
actions than their male counterparts.
Race – It is expected that minority officers will be more likely than their
white counterparts to provide supportive actions.
Training – It is expected that officers with more training on selected topics
might be more likely to provide assistance and support to juveniles than those
officers with less training.
Length of Service - It is expected that as officer length of service increases
they will be more likely to provide support and assistance.
Education - It is expected that college educated officers will be more likely
to take supportive actions than officers without college educations.
Community Policing Assignment - It is expected that officers who are community
specialists will be more likely to provide support and assistance
than regular patrol officers” (pp. 44-45).
Summary of Hypotheses/Expectations for Officer Attitudes:
“Use of Authority
Cynicism – It is expected that officers with more negative views of citizens
will use more authority and will be more likely to make arrests than officers
with more positive views of citizens.
Aggressiveness – It is expected that officers who favor an aggressive style
will use more authority and will be more likely to make arrests than officers
who do not favor such an aggressive style. However, one should allow for the
competing hypothesis that officers who favor an aggressive approach may

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Running head: THE POLICING OF JUVENILES
initiate more encounters with juveniles that are of a minor legal nature and
involve little more than questioning the juvenile, hence it may appear in the
aggregate that these officers use lower levels of authority.
Selectivity – Officers with more selective attitudes about enforcing the law
are expected to utilize less authority and be less likely to make arrests than
their less selective counterparts.
Role Orientation - Officers with a more expansive view of their role (i.e.,
they include minor violations and disorders as part of their role) are expected
to utilize less authority and to be less likely to make arrests than officers with
a narrow role conception.
Selective and Not Aggressive - Officers who attitudinally favor selectivity and
who do not favor an aggressive approach are expected to be less likely to take
authoritative actions than their counterparts (officers who do not fit this
attitudinal mold).
Assistance – Officers who believe assisting citizens is important are expected
to be less likely to take authoritative actions than those officers who do not
recognize the importance of assisting citizens.
Provision of Support/Assistance
Cynicism – It is expected that officers with negative views toward citizens
will be less likely to offer juveniles assistance and comfort than officers with
more positive views.
Role Orientation – Officers with a more expansive view of their role are
expected to be more likely to offer juveniles assistance and comfort than
those officers with a less expansive role definition.
Assistance – Officers who believe assisting citizens is important are expected
to offer more assistance and comfort to juveniles than officers who do not
believe assisting citizens is an important aspect of their work.
Aggressiveness - It is expected that officers who favor a more aggressive
approach to policing will be less likely to take supportive actions than those
officers who do not favor an aggressive approach.
Selective and Not Aggressive - Officers who attitudinally favor selectivity and
who do not favor an aggressive approach are expected to be more likely to
offer support and to offer more support than their counterparts (officers who
do not fit this attitudinal mold” (pp. 54-55).

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Running head: THE POLICING OF JUVENILES
Summary of Hypotheses/Expectations for Legal Factors:
“Use of Authority
Seriousness – It is expected that police will be more likely to use
authoritative actions when the offense is of a serious legal nature.
Evidence - It is expected that as the strength of the evidence increases, the
amount of authority utilized will increase as well.
Use of Alcohol and/or Drugs - It is expected that the police will be more
likely to take authoritative actions when the juvenile appears to be under the
influence of alcohol and/or drugs than when a juvenile shows no such signs.
Victim Preference:
Requests Arrest - It is expected that when a complainant requests that the
police arrest a juvenile the officer will be more likely to make an arrest and
more likely to utilize other types of authority than when the citizen does not
make this request.
Requests No Arrest - It is expected that when a complainant requests that the
police do not arrest a juvenile suspect the officer will be less likely to make
an arrest and less likely to use authority than if the citizen does not make this
request.
Provision of Support/Assistance
Seriousness – It is expected that when the offense is a serious one the police
will be less likely to offer support and assistance than when the offense is of
a less serious nature.
Evidence - It is expected that as the strength of the evidence increases, the
likelihood of police offering support and assistance toward the juvenile will
decrease.
Use of Alcohol and/or Drugs - It is expected that the police will be less likely
to offer support and assistance to a juvenile who is showing behavioral
effects of being under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
Victim Preference:
Requests Arrest - It is expected that when a complainant requests that the
police arrest a juvenile the officer will be less likely to offer support and
assistance”
Requests No Arrest - However, it is expected that if a complainant requests
that the police not arrest a juvenile the police will be more likely to offer

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Running head: THE POLICING OF JUVENILES
support and assistance to the juvenile than if the victim had said nothing at all”
(pp. 62-63)

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In addition, several research methods will be employed in the gathering and analysis of data (i.e.,
survey, systematic observation and content analysis). Data for this study will be collected from
four police departments, two from the State of Mississippi and two from the State of Texas
during the summer of 2012.
What does the project intend to accomplish (objectives, significance)?
As stated above, the purpose of this proposed study is to examine police behavior in
regard to police-juvenile encounters/interactions in the rural areas of the State of Mississippi and
the State of Texas. To accomplish this objective, a replication of a previous study design which
examined police-juvenile encounters in the urban areas of Indianapolis, Indiana and St.
Petersburg, Florida will be undertaken. This proposed study is important for the following
reasons: (1) It has the potential to enhance the understanding of street level police-juvenile
encounters; (2) It may enhance society and police understanding of effective and proper
methods of street level police-juvenile encounters; (3) It may contribute to the mitigation of
street level police-juvenile conflict; (4) It may help to restore and improve the relationship
between police, juveniles, and the community; (5) It may contribute to the recognition and
elevation of scholarly research; and (6) It may improve the understanding and the interpretation
of Myers (2004) work due to this proposed study being a replication of Myers
(2004) study design which would provide a second opinion on her hypotheses, methods, and
results.
How does the project relate to current research in the area? How does it fall within the
context of extant research/work in the area?

Running head: THE POLICING OF JUVENILES
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There has been extensive research conducted over the years to explain police handling of
adult offending. Unfortunately, limited research has been done in the area of street level policejuvenile encounters. This study will therefore fill the gap in knowledge regarding rural street
level police juvenile encounters. Furthermore, an extensive review of extant literature on the
subject revealed that most of the research related to this subject matter has been conducted in
urban settings. Therefore, there are limited empirical studies in relation to rural settings to
provide similar answers to this phenomenon.
Method
The data for this proposed study will be obtained through survey, participant observation
and content analysis. The study seeks to examine police-juvenile encounters from a street-level
situational perspective. To accomplish this task, a survey and a participant observation method
will be employed in collecting data from four police departments. This study is being
undertaken for its own sake and will not be generalizable to other police departments which
serve other rural areas in the United States. Field trips for data collection will be undertaken
following approval from the Prairie View A&M University Institutional Review Board.
Patrol Officers Surveys
A 125 item survey will be administered to officers in a private setting during their
assigned shift (see Appendix B, office survey). The officers participating in the survey will be
informed that the opinions they express are confidential. The survey instrument will be applied
to elicit information relating to police interactions with juveniles encountered while they are on
street patrol, on officers’ personal attributes, backgrounds and attitudes towards their roles as
officers. To reiterate, the current study seeks to replicate a previous study design undertaken by

Running head: THE POLICING OF JUVENILES
Myers (2004), which examined police response to juvenile offending in the urban areas of

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Indianapolis, Minnesota and St. Petersburg, and St. Petersburg, Florida. This study seeks to
ascertain if its’ findings support or negate that of Myers given the unique contexts of Texas and
Mississippi.
Observation of Police Officer
To complement the data obtained through survey, a systematic observation along Myers’
study method will also be undertaken. How the police respond to deviant behaviors such as
loitering, creating a disturbance, engaging in disorderly conduct, violating traffic laws and other
encounters with juveniles also will be observed and noted. The researcher will document/note
how the police and citizens are communicating with each other. In addition, she will describe the
type of environment in which the interaction occurs. She will ride with patrol officers during
their assigned shifts. She will also make notations of everything that the officers did during their
entire shift, including the activities that the officer performs and information in regard to the
nature of their interactions with juveniles and other citizens. The instrument that will be used to
record the data is called the “Ride Form” (see Appendix C). Also, each day after the researcher
returns from a field trip, she will write a narrative which gives accounts of the officer’s activities
during a work day and also code information about the officer’s encounters with citizens with
whom the officer interacted and other activities the officers perform. The police officers survey
data will be linked with the observation data by an officer identifier code assigned to officers for
this research by the researcher. This identifier code will be indicated on the officer survey and
the ride form of the observation data.
Theoretical frameworks:

Running head: THE POLICING OF JUVENILES
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The proposed study will employ a psychological-social theoretical framework as Meyer
(2004) to explain the decision making process and behavior of police when encountering
citizens, particularly juveniles. There has been scant research pertaining to the application of
this approach to explain behavior of police with juveniles in rural areas.
Psychological or Individual Perspectives of Police Behavior
The psychological perspectives account of behavior of police is important explanatory
variables for understanding police behavior and response. This includes individual
characteristics or attributes of officers, male and female. Such attributes include personal
characteristics (race, sex, age), background attributes (education, length of service, training) and
their attitudes about how they feel about their job, supervisors and citizens in which they render
service. The personality or mood of the police officer is also instrumental to the understanding
of police behavior. Therefore, the proposed study thesis is similar to Myers (viz., police officers
who share similar characteristics or attitudes may respond or display similar behavioral patterns).
This means that if officers who possess similar characteristics may respond toward juveniles in a
similar fashion. Based on this perspective, it is evident that there is something about the
individual that shapes behavior, particularly police officers—females, males, educated,
uneducated, members of minority groups and the majority. Therefore, one may expect to
observe differences in police behavior due to variations of personal attributes of officers
handling situational encounters with juveniles.
Sociological or Situational Explanations of Police Behavior
Sociological or situational theoretical approaches rest on the tenet that police behavior is
influenced by the social environment or immediate situation in which they are confronted with

Running head: THE POLICING OF JUVENILES
and the distribution of different aspect of social life (e.g., the seriousness of the offense, the

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demeanor of an individual, bystanders, the amount of evidence present at the crime scene, extra
legal factors, legal factors). In other words, the social structure of the situation has significant
influence on police response/behavior (Myers, 2004).
As stated above, the proposed study will employ the same approach that was used by
Myers (2004) in her study. However, the current researcher will complement Myers’s research
findings by applying other sociological theoretical framework in explicating the phenomenon
under study. The theories will include Black’s theory of law and labeling theory. It is believed
that these theories will provide a more comprehensive understanding to the issues under study.