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Journal of Criminal Justice 38 (2010) 481–488

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Journal of Criminal Justice

Social ecology and police discretion: The influence of district crime, cynicism, and
workload on the vigor of police response☆
James J. Sobol ⁎
Buffalo State College, Criminal Justice Department, 1300 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo, New York 14222, United States

a b s t r a c t

This study provided a partial test of Klinger's (1997) postulations on the ecological correlates of police vigor
using data drawn from the Project on Policing Neighborhoods (POPN). Klinger's theory hypothesized that a
form of police behavior he called vigor would vary inversely with district crime levels because officers would
be more cynical of residents, view crime as normal, perceive victims as less deserving, and have less time to
devote to calls in high crime districts. Although data limitations precluded a full test, the current study
examined two of the four mediating variables (officer cynicism and district workload) and their influence on
the crime/vigor relationship. Findings revealed variables other than those examined might mediate the effect
of district crime on vigor or the relationship between district crime and vigor might be spurious. Implications
for future research and theoretical development are discussed.
© 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Introduction ecological correlates of police vigor using data drawn from the Project
on Policing Neighborhoods. This study built on prior studies that
The understanding of neighborhood effects on police behavior assessed the degree to which the type of neighborhood in which police-
rests largely on a collection of diverse, and at times, contradictory citizen encounters occurred influenced the manner in which police
empirical associations among neighborhood variables on different functioned.2 The findings provided preliminary insights into Klinger's
forms of police behavior. To improve this understanding, Klinger theory and suggested issues that future research ought to consider.
(1997) presented a theoretical model to explain how and why patrol
district crime levels affect police behavior. His theory predicted that Literature review
the vigor with which police used their formal authority would vary
inversely with district crime levels because officers would be more Early knowledge about neighborhood effects on police behavior
cynical of residents, view crime as normal, perceive victims as less derived from studies focused on the influence of neighborhood context
deserving, and have less time to devote to calls in high crime districts on styles patrol (Brown, 1981; White, 1972; Wilson, 1968). Among the
when compared to their colleagues assigned to lower crime districts.1 many questions considered, the most prominent was why the police
Klinger's theory highlighted the intersection between police selectively enforced the law across different neighborhood contexts
organizations and ecological environments, and explained why police when the behavior of individuals in those areas was virtually the same
behavior might vary. Missing from the current body of research, (Goldstein, 1960; Rubinstein, 1973; Whyte, 1943). Whyte's (1943)
however, was any empirical examination that tested Klinger's model. ethnographic study in Massachusetts had speculated that variation in
The absence of research could be attributed to the inability to measure police behavior was due to officer perceptions of local and societal
key constructs at the appropriate levels and the lack of clarity standards and their desire to maintain close ties with neighborhood
concerning the appropriate unit of aggregation to study the ecological residents (p. 136). Other studies had reported that neighborhood
influences on police perceptions and behavior. It is therefore unclear settings shaped police priorities and officer expectations and, in turn,
whether the proposed relationship between district crime and police accounted for the behavioral differences across physical space (Reiss &
vigor are mediated by workload, police cynicism, views of normal Bordua, 1967; Werthman & Piliavin, 1967).
crime and evaluations of a victim's moral worth. Using observational and aggregate-level data, additional analyses
The current study attempted to address these and additional empirically examined the neighborhood-police behavior nexus. It had
concerns to provide a partial test of Klinger's postulations on the been reported that the racial and socioeconomic status of neighbor-
hoods as well as levels of reported crime explained police discretionary
☆ This paper was accepted under the Editorship of Kent Joscelyn.
actions. For example, using observational data from the Police Services
⁎ Tel.: +1 716 878 3217; fax: +1 716 878 3240. Study (PSS), Smith (1986) compared five different measures of police
E-mail address: soboljj@buffalostate.edu. behavior and eleven neighborhood characteristics. He reported that

0047-2352/$ – see front matter © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2010.04.017

1984. Klinger conceptualized vigor as (Stark. & Sabslin. especially or writing a report. In another study. (3) perceive victims as less deserving. see engage in coercive and abusive behavior in minority and racially mixed Meyer & Rowan. (2) view crime as perceived situations or areas as dangerous might be more aggressive normal. Payne. and subgroups loosely connected to formal organizational rules (e. used force.. supervision. 1988).f. Reports of serious child abuse cases were significantly According to Klinger's theory. writing reports and conducting investigations are thesis. 286).3 Klinger had stated that the application of formal legal authority by Other scholars posited that neighborhoods with more crime and police officers was similar to Donald Black's (1976. His findings might be spurious because officers most likely groups lay informal tacit agreements and unofficial rules that govern arrested. For instance. ordered. This perspective drunk. district level deviance is presumed less likely among African American families than they were among to affect levels of police cynicism about the utility of a vigorous Caucasian families. efficiently and to deal with the problems of crime and deviance in a Other studies considered the crime rate in areas where officers timely fashion. city) and most of cynicism on police vigor (but see Sobol. cases involving lower status clients Ritti. Two police negotiation of workgroup rules (Klinger. police to address criminal activity because non-White victims might 2010). 2001. response for several reasons.. Klinger's theory attempted to address this matter by minimal attention because those individuals resided in areas illuminating the link between district crime. including data limitations. and supervisory styles. Worden. for the most part. 1980) work and deviance levels might prompt leniency as opposed to aggression the notion that law varies in quantity. and that the race of the families was a Police cynicism significant predictor of police decisions not to invoke the law (Willis & Wells. & Davidson. 332). of studies had presented empirical evidence consistent with Stark's p. but in a later study. likely due to several factors. Weick. These results require cautious interpreta. prominently. it had been reported that officers who would: (1) be more cynical about district residents. the lack of systematic theory. which (1977) ecological study reported that greater levels or threats of Klinger's theory predicts. 1989). Officers become cynical when they An additional study provided evidence of police underreporting. Variation in levels of crime and deviance across patrol worked as another predictor of police behavior. 1984). per se but rather the racial composition of the area in which the Klinger maintains that officers operate largely unencumbered by encounter occurs” (p. 1964). The manifestation of decreased if they were residentially segregated into distinct neigh. 1977. thus speculated that cynical officers might not devote extensive energy officers were less inclined to take official action in the form of arresting or time to encounters with citizens in high crime districts. the formal legal authority applied by police officers could be rank- hoods when other variables were taken into consideration (Brooks. Sun. 1986. enforcement (Sudnow. officers assigned to high crime districts will be less violence and police aggressiveness and force (Geller & Karales. a group of teenagers congregating on a corner. direct outside influence and devise informal workgroup rules to tion.. Police vigor such as management. According to some studies. leads to differences in four factors that frame violence against the police led to more instances of police force. Ehrlich. 1997). 2008). examples of formal legal authority. 1981. deviant acts would garner vigorous police intervention. According to other studies found a relationship between a jurisdictions level of the theory. Within these work- the offense. officer perception. Much of the research had presumed officers made decisions based on some neighborhood Normal crime characteristic without identifying the causal mechanisms for the relationship or offering any explicit mention of the nature and The concept of normal crime assumes legal actors base their direction of the expected association. and (4) have less time and likely to use coercive tactics to handle suspects (Fyfe. and perceived as having blemished characters. 1963). & Wu. If patrol officers defined deviant acts as Klinger's theory has deep roots in organizational theory and is normal when district deviance increased. Stark speculated that patrol officers would ignore some “the degree to which police officers extend their formal legal violations in high-crime neighborhoods because of their cynical authority in encounters with citizens” (p. neighborhoods. A loitering Schatzman.. 1969).482 J. Strauss. thus less needful of law behavior. no study directly examined that benign neglect occurred because both Black victims and patrol whether district crime affected levels of police cynicism. observed a significant correlation between police shootings and a city's violent crime rate. 1986. Warner. 1990). which operate largely outside the realm of police there was criminal evidence of wrongdoing (e. borhood (Liska & Chamlin. 1984. Bernard & area. it is reasonable to assume recording behaviors for certain offenses in higher-crime neighbor. Fyfe to devote to all calls equally. vigorous than officers assigned to lower crime districts because they Worden. c. 1980). 1997. there could be less pressure on with the perception that those citizens were uncooperative (Sobol. 1997. Bucher. Smith & Klein. 280) and arrests. Smith. Thus. and filed a report when the offense was serious and police action. One important workgroup goal is to process cases Smith. 1995). 1978. Visher. 1987). only the most serious grounded in the negotiated-order perspective (Strauss. Vigor and leniency perceptions toward citizens and victims who reside there.g. In this context. Kania and Mackey's districts means that officers have different work to perform. police cynicism and patrol district violent crime rates. He officers viewed Black-on-Black crimes as a personal matter. administrative policies. and examined as such. however. Slovak. make arrests. 1988). Those using the negotiated neighborhoods. Theory guiding the research decisions on the status of the individual as well as on the patrolled was. Sobol / Journal of Criminal Justice 38 (2010) 481–488 patrol officers were more likely to issue citations. neighborhood crime rates influenced police non. the units of it did not examine the direct ecological effects or the mediating effects aggregation studied (e. Another study reported that police responded in different ways to child maltreatment cases. Though his The contradictory empirical findings in the literature reviewed are research contributed to understanding police perceptions of citizens. 279). Liska and Chamlin (1984) argued With the exception of Sobol (2010). He concluded that “the propensity of police to exercise order approach to explain behavior of individuals in organizations coercive authority is not influenced by the race of the individual suspect perceive behavior as a social rather than a formal rule-driven process. or loud music assumes that organizations are comprised of semi-autonomous emanating from an apartment or low-income housing might incur . encounter citizens who do not cooperate and when they see the Liska and Chamlin (1984) reported that arrest rates for non-Whites criminal justice system fail to remedy deviance. His research reported a modest positive association between fail to report crime or follow-up with police investigations.J. districts. accounted for considerable variation in police shootings (Fyfe.g. reported that internal factors. implicit (Bernard & Engel. 2008). 1986.g. A number are “opposite ends of the formal authority continuum” (Klinger. since Smith failed to control for the type and severity of negotiate order within their district (p. this is when officers see previously arrested perpetrators on the street.

Indiana and St. while Lipsky (1980) posited street-level bureaucrats assessed the moral worth of the clientele with whom Systematic social observation they had contact and might employ worthiness when the end point of intervention was not clearly defined. DeJong. would create workgroup and sufficient variation for multivariate modeling. One hundred sixty rules that promoted less vigor in high crime districts. Such bias was intentional and consistent with neighborhood selection in earlier studies (Black & Reiss. Parks. The selection criterion for the current study matters might receive exclusive priority. and personal characteristics were inconsistent. The POPN study they could claim some people were more (or less) deserving). or suspects. Florida) in the summers of 1996 and 1997. including whether police cynicism and district and district work rules that developed among officers assigned there. J. two different patrol officers (194 in Indianapolis and 128 in 1985. The final data file consisted of 1. collectively. Sobol / Journal of Criminal Justice 38 (2010) 481–488 483 less vigor in high crime areas because those actions were more Department (SPPD) were in the process of implementing community “normal” compared to those same actions in low crime areas. Petersburg. Roth. citizen satisfaction (DeJong. nine cases were omitted from the analysis due to missing officer district workgroups consisted of those officers working in the same survey and observational data.000 hours with nearly 12. Petersburg) for nearly 6. Lipsky.4 The study hypothe. 1967. One might expect more Interviews vigorous police activity in low-workload areas because officers may devote more time. interviews were completed with nearly problems. only serious recipients. and how and why police behavior varied across physical space was the perceptions of citizens. In a citizen interactions.J. in person interviews with officers. Reiss and Bordua (1967) also Trained field observers accompanied officers assigned to selected observed that police officers placed citizens into two categories and beats within particular patrol districts throughout a matched sample of justified their actions based on citizens perceived to be deserving of work shifts (see Parks et al. 1980. the ship between neighborhood context and police behavior.555 suspects with whom 226 officers sized that district workload would lead to greater resource constraints. Whitaker. Officers assigned to the district for less than one While data limitations precluded a full test of Klinger's model. service district with substantial crime and scarce resources. 1980). including system- atic social observation. DeJong. city were selected with reference to their scores on an index of ment based on their understanding of crime rates and the people who socioeconomic distress in order to obtain variation in service conditions reside there. As noted earlier. Reiss. 1972). work experiences. and 240 of 246 patrol officers in The present research St.) The is made complicated because “much of the [ecological] theory may well Indianapolis Police Department (IPD) and the St. Workload 1982). questions obtained information on officers’ district assignments. and resources to both minor and major In addition to observation. had contact based on all study variables that had non-missing data and that cynicism and workload. witnesses. Bittner (1967) discussed citizen worthiness Mastrofski. drug enforcement. Dependent variable and police crime records. Petersburg Police be applicable for understanding spatial variations in dimensions of . 1982). Survey Although past research provided some guidance on the relation. compared to those officers assigned to high-workload areas. A single rank structure for vigor Mastrofski.. and arrests) to enhance quality of life in the neighborhoods. respectively could be the result of lack of a precise definition of vigor on which to (for a detailed description of POPN and the research sites. The intent of the For analytical purposes.. The elimination of these cases did not result in any discernible differences Data and methods in reported coefficients or significance levels. another 157 were removed because district who shared many of the same work experiences. Observations occurred across four districts in research argued officers might justify force or bias to the extent that Indianapolis and three districts in St. to influence the workgroup mandate to regulate and control the police response to criminal and deviant conduct. The Project on Policing Neighborhoods (POPN) was conducted in two cities (Indianapolis. identified as suspects. Several studies used the concept of deservedness to explain the way Petersburg utilized problem solving to improve police service and in which clients were processed in different settings (Bittner. census data.g. traffic and suspicion stops. & Gray. in his study of skid-row. see build a clear ranking of police behavior. The absence of research examining Klinger's (1997) vigor concept Petersburg. for police. higher expected levels of police activity. Finally. Officers in Indianapolis worked in an organizational environment that stressed traditional aggressive Victim deservedness enforcement (e. impetus for Klinger's (1997) theory of social ecology. Twelve beats in each officers stereotype particular places as deserving of vigorous enforce. Balancing resources with workload could lead St. 1971. 1998. Reiss. & Snipes.000 police- to variations in the execution of particular tasks (Lipsky. Parks. workload is likely included all non-traffic suspects with whom the police had contact. data from the interviews were merged current study was to provide the first empirical test of Klinger's with observation data of officers having had contact with citizens postulations on the ecological correlates of police vigor. Citizens were crime victims. Therefore. & Parks. 2001. 1999). Interviews consisted of mixed questions posed by trained interviewers not involved in the field observations. Whitaker. officer assignments to the district were for less than one year. The interviews included 398 of 426 patrol officers in Indianapolis. Petersburg. energy. workload mediated the crime/vigor relationship. The current study used data from four sources originally collected Measures by the Project on Policing Neighborhoods (POPN). 1967. Mastrofski. Herbert's (1998) sampling strategy). For this inquiry. A minimum of 28 shifts were observed in each of the 24 study Some scholars have argued that patrol officer behavior is an beats. the findings length of time they were in that district. the lack of a systematic theory of of the officers. Officers in St. field researchers observed three hundred twenty- inevitable adaptation to situations of excessive demands (Bayley. policing at the time of the study. the year were eliminated from the analysis in order to concentrate on current study measured two of the four mediating variables and their officers with the greatest familiarity with levels of crime and deviance influence on vigor. 1999 for further detail concerning the POPN punishment and those who were not. classifications might spill over into particular neighborhoods where therefore. their occupational outlooks. Altogether. Such sample observed areas within districts with higher levels of distress and. all patrol officers in the two departments. Worden.

Engel & reasonable person would feel free to decline. such a Worden. shift. Sobol. the citizens in your beat are willing to work with the police to try to persuade. 280). representing the attention of other agencies or institutions. attitudes as proxy measures to capture their level of cynicism towards 2004. which. The items were from Most (1) to None (4).5 Behaviors summed three items obtained from the POPN survey data set. requested. (2) suggest. it was coded as suggested. Sun & Payne. 2008. The study's design excluded traffic cases such as gender. Klinger. 1996.g. Borrowing from Sun et al.” “drop the gun. which included in the measure sufficiently discriminated among various asked officers: “How many of the citizens in your beat would call the courses of police action and allowed examination of the amount of police if they saw something suspicious”.484 J. suspect's emotional state and whether the suspect was disrespectful citation was merged with arrest simply because there were only to the responding officer. race. (2008). 2000. percent unemployed. and computing the quotient.g.1 percent). standardized by responding to the conduct of citizens within the framework of the state. the present study created the workload measure person was seized for purposes of the Fourth Amendment.” “leave here now. studies (e.g. a four-item data for the violent crimes of murder and non-negligent manslaughter.g.8 percent). was obviously not a consensual police-citizen encounter because no Derived in large part from two studies (DeJong et al. or else you are going to of behavior because patrol district workgroup rules prioritized calls be arrested”). (4) interrogation and search. Principal component factor analysis confirmed greater legal consequences under the law. and approximate wealth. Terrill. & The current study used three Likert items to measure patrol officer Worden. Greater workload could lead to limited resources. Myers. Officers who encounter time. Reisig. category since both were common practices utilized by officers during 2000. advised. thirty-seven suspects cited in the sample.0 percent). request and negotiate. vigor represented and 1997 in St. and (5) arrest. robbery and aggravated assault for 1996 in Indianapolis 1997.g. unassigned consequence for not complying (e. persuaded. a citizen detained for search or interrogation was generally was in the district. Novak. Since any activity or encounter turns on how it began (e. 1999. Search This analysis included a number of control variables consistently included questioning the citizen and searching or frisking the citizen. Engle.” “leave her by assessing the percentage of their time that was directed activity alone”). 2003). 2001. Worden & Myers. 2001. Engel & Silver.. Sobol. Terrill & Mastrofski. ..000 residents. Ordinally something and were asked about it by the police”. For analytical purposes. Variables used in the analysis included suspect characteristics. course of the observational period reflected how much work there however. suggest/persuade indicated acceptable reliability (α = . This measure was calculated for each the degree to which officers used their formal legal authority by district based on census data population estimates.97 in which each action represented the highest level of vigor used by in explaining 65. (6. Petersburg. A non-custodial arrest themselves (e. the total assigned activity and assigned encounter interrogate and use search tactics to gather information were formally time. Worden & Shepard. The measure of workload for this study considered negotiated. & Worden.74).1 percent). For this study.. The resulting measure reflected the intervening in the lives of a suspect to a much greater extent than simply percentage of time that officers had unassigned during their observed negotiating or commanding the suspect to do something. Unlike a custodial arrest. weighted factor score. The percentage of encounters that these three items loaded on one factor with an Eigenvalue = 1. 2009. 1981.. the percentage of time when the officers’ activity and temporarily deprived persons of their liberty by using legal authority to encounter was assigned or directed across different shifts during the issue a citation or refer for future prosecution.g. & Frank. The information below Workload offers further explanation and description of these categories.. Sobol. 1. 2001. forcible rape. The cynicism scale categories of behavior formed the police vigor measure. or attempted to get the suspect to do might compel officers to find ways to allocate and prioritize their time something. assigned time) versus non-directed activity (e.g. The Cronbach alpha score officers was as follows: no action (20. in turn. command and threaten (6. One might infer that officers with less time to free to go after the officer completed those tasks. whether the suspect was under the influence of drugs or alcohol the thereby resulting in few instances of citations. and arrest (20. 1996. and “How many of ranked. Black. 1976) and studies that quantified police behavior beyond arrest Police officer cynicism or force dichotomies (Brown. 2000. Terrill. which often resulted in a more cynical outlook. response such as arrest.. Sobol / Journal of Criminal Justice 38 (2010) 481–488 police behavior besides formal authority” [emphasis added] (Klinger.8 percent of the variance. or more efficiently. The analysis included the length of time the officer was in one particular district since it likely influenced perceptions of citizens and Independent variables district problems. (3) command and threaten the suspect solve neighborhood problems. investigations of incidents and might precede a more vigorous 2002). In other words. workload was another deviance driven indicator going to get pepper-sprayed. “How many of the citizens formal legal authority officers applied to situations where each decision in your beat would provide information about a crime if they knew they made ranged from more (vigorous) to less (lenient). interrogation and search were collapsed into a single Mastrofski. For the purposes of the current study. interrogate and search (46. A higher percentage of unassigned time indicated less work. If an officer asked. approximate age. five mutually exclusive residents in the district they were assigned. 2002. Weitzer.” The response options for each of these to do something. and included only suspects with whom the police had contact. Engle.g..9 percent). The definition of a command was a statement by an officer the amount of time officers had available during their observed shifts in the form of an order (e. Interrogation included those instances when the officer ques- tioned a suspect in order to gain information that established the Control variables suspects’ or their colleagues’ involvement in unlawful activity. 2005. found to be predictors of various forms of police behavior in prior the citizen's possessions. Smith & Visher.7 High scores reflected a higher category of vigor is likely to bring suspects and their conduct to perception by officers that citizens were uncooperative.J. “wait here. For this study. or the area immediately around the suspect. the crime rate measure used Uniform Crime Report on police behavior. a single category. and the (percentage of assigned time) by summing the total activity and officer is exerting more formal authority (e. vigor). “drop the knife or else you are time). at the Actions that constituted more vigor than a command or threat were prompting of a dispatcher or supervisor or self-initiated by the interrogation and search since the officer took the next formal step and officer). For this study. Analysis also incorporated the level of concentrated disadvantage in the districts where the encounter occurred due to District crime levels the likely effect neighborhood structural characteristics might have For this study. 1999). commands and threats were collapsed into for service as levels of deviance rose and resources became scarce.6 Borrowing from research in legal sociology (Baumgartner. A threat involved a command followed by a specific (e.. unassigned time) had more work to do. including the percent poor. the categories included: (1) no action/release. p. & McCluskey 2002..

49 ence.27 0. whereas. Table 1 provides an Discretionary Time 0. J. 5 = cite and arrest. 1997). In order to have mediation. 0 = St. 3 = agitated verbal.19 Expects Violence 0-1 0. 2008 for use of this strategy). the significant relationship observed problems and community organizing.68 20.04 0. 0 = White Age . The former focused on the relationships between officer Legal cynicism. 0 = not elderly.31 research.36 0. Third.76 3. 2 = some. 0 = no Citizen displays disrespect to the individual or authority of the police officer Seriousness + 1 = no crime or disorder. First. 4 = above middle Determined by the citizen's appearance and dress. Seriousness 1-5 2. St. slurred speech. How many of the citizens in beat are willing to work with the police to try to solve neighborhood problems Years in District +/.74 3. negotiate. district violent crime rate and police vigor. 0 = female Race + 1 = non-White.11 0. impaired motor skills. 0 = no Citizen displays indication of alcohol or drug use. the level of conflict between the victim and the suspect. home. 4 = none) How many of the citizens in beat would call the police if they saw something suspicious. Scale ranging between 3-12.38 1.50-25. respectively). Gender 0-1 0.87 Years in District 1-25 5.. made up the violent crime rate) should relate to the mediating variables (cynicism concentrated disadvantage measure (e.50 overview of each of the study variables. -. Level of conflict between disputing parties Flee + 1 = yes. 60 and above Wealth . the independent variable (district .g.45 Analysis and findings Wealth 1-4 2. whether the suspect fled the scene. 4 = major property crime and minor violence.67 (1986) recommendation to test for mediation (e.19 Disrespect 0-1 0. How many of the citizens in beat would provide information about a crime if they knew something and were asked about it by the police. 5 = major violent crime Conflict + 1 = none. 4 = interrogate and search. 2 = low.09 0.22 0.17 0.19-2. because Indianapolis officers stressed aggressiveness and a get-tough there should be a relationship between the mediator and the policy.30 2. 2 = suggest.93 denote positive. how those variables were Police Cynicism 3-12 6.31 considered possible influences on police vigor. see also Murphy & Flee 0-1 0. the independent variable (district Earls.000 District residents Discretionary Time + Time free of assignments from dispatch or supervisors (percentage) Police Cynicism .45 Both bivariate and multivariate analyses were conducted in this Emotional 0-1 0. it was expected that between the independent variable and the dependent variable under Indianapolis officers should be more vigorous compared to St. Fourth.63 0.48 Age 0-1 5.56 Drug/Alcohol 0-1 0. Sobol / Journal of Criminal Justice 38 (2010) 481–488 485 Table 1 Descriptive statistics for study variables Variable Hypothesized Effect Definition Vigor Level of Vigor: 1 = no action.49 0. Thus. property and possessions. Percentage unemployed plus percentage below 50 percent poverty plus percent female-headed households plus percent Black Site + 1 = Indianapolis.46 0. and percent Black. 0 = no Did citizen have any sort of weapon on his or her person or within “jump and reach?” Expects Violence + 1 = yes. 3 = few. The city in which the incidents occurred were controlled violent crime) should relate to the dependent variable (vigor). persuade. Table 2 provides descriptive statistics for each of Suspect Characteristics the variables used in the analysis. Violent crime rate per 1.28 conditions should exist.. +/.03 0.17 Multivariate analyses were performed following Baron and Kenny's Conflict 1-5 1. District Crime . or unconsciousness Emotional + 1 = yes.g. Petersburg Suspect Characteristics Gender + 1 = male. 4 = threatened assault. 5 = assault. suspect flees. four Weapon 0-1 0. & and district workload). Created by summing 3 separate items (1 = most. 3 = middle.43 Race 0-1 0. 3 = minor property crime and other misdemeanors. 3 = command and threaten. Number of years observed officer has worked in district Concentrated Disadvantage +/.signs Concentrated Disadvantage -1.08 1. 0 = all other Was there any indication of anticipated violence before the encounter began? percent female-headed families.75 0. 0 = no Citizen unable to perceive situations as a reasonable person would or to control one's emotions and actions Disrespect + 1 = yes. Raudenbush. and whether the officer Vigor 1-5 3. below 60.05 1. as well as the information provided by the citizen about his or her possessions (e. 2 = calm verbal. Petersburg officers.18 Tyler. Site 0-1 0. The severity of the alleged citizen behavior that Table 2 Descriptive statistics of study variables prompted the encounter. 1 = elderly. Second. including the smell of alcohol on the breath. 1 = chronic poverty..03 0.J.85 coded as well as the hypothesized relationship to vigor (+. The multivariate analysis included several legal controls presumed to influence vigor.10-0. 2 = public disorders and victimless crimes. workload.40 expected violence prior to encountering the suspect might all be District Crime 12.24 0.g. 0 = all other Did the suspect flee the scene of the encounter? Weapon + 1 = yes. Petersburg's approach to crime emphasized solving dependent variable.26 0. whether there existed Variables Range Mean Standard Deviation potential for danger (weapon present). negative and underdetermined directions of influ. other resources) Drug/Alcohol + 1 = yes. Sampson. job.

(results not shown in Table 3) the data indicated significant Gender -. Scott. first empirical test of Klinger's (1997) theory of social ecology that Worden.79 assumption is not violated in all estimated models. 2000.58** 1.28 1.555) Ordered logistic regression predicting vigor and testing mediating effects of cynicism and district workload Variable Vigor District Crime Police Cynicism Workload Step 1 Step 2 Step 3 Vigor 1. -.04** 1. (0.13) not shown).08*** Pseudo R2 .03 0. the sample size of effect on vigor disappeared. ** p b . -.13** 208.15 1. 2006. The inter-correlations Emotional -. -0.01 0.04 0.60*** 1.001. 1986). 1989).71) Police Cynicism -. This finding directly contrasted inclined to invoke their formal legal authority when there was an the theory tested. 1994). and 34 percent rate and vigor.70 correlated with cynicism (r = ..37)..01 0. -. The main purpose of this study was to provide the (Micucci & Gomme. 1. -.06 1.32 -0.82) if the suspect was disrespectful to officers compared to Prior research showed that police behavior varied across different being deferential. -. 2005. Disrespect -.06 (0. 2008).00 District Crime 0.002 . nor what the significant neighborhood 1996.29*** 1.18 1. thereby making (0.555. 0. The odds of a equations estimated following Baron and Kenny's (1986) recommen. -. As shown in Table 4. Once seriousness of the offense and other and workload) in a citizen-level analysis.00 1.00 Variable Coef Odds Coef Odds Coef Odds Police Cynicism -0.82 The dependent variable is a five level ordinal measure of police (0.03) (0. Smith et al.01 (two-tailed test). 1997. between district crime and vigor.04 -0.07) dependent variable (Agresti.03 * p b .01) (0. -.34 behavior ranging from no action to arrest. 1984.24 (0.05.16 enforcement policies in both departments and the manner in which (0.00 Ratio Ratio Ratio Workload -0. -.04) is appropriate when the dependent variable is ordinal and the effects Conflict -. 0.16 0. Petersburg (r = -.19) offered little. McKelvey & Flee -. 1975. Sun et al. -.16). Much of this research was not guided by any a reported disrespectful suspects were significantly more likely to priori theoretical expectation of why particular neighborhood ecolog- have action taken against them (Engle et al.11) correlated with workload (r = -. Years in District -.09** 1. (0. the findings revealed the relationship The findings presented here involved district-level variables (crime as positive and significant.15** 1. As previous scholarship indicated effects might mean. however. 2002.30) Zavoina. -. 1997). The parallel lines Weapon -.02) Discretionary -.34).38 1.19 among the remaining independent variables were examined (results (0.19 0. Whereas the theory predicted an inverse relationship officer safety issue (Fyfe.01 of the independent variable are constant across all levels of the (0. while step 2 shows that this direct effect is not mediated greater if the offense was serious (odds ratio = 1. Goldberg.02) there was a mediating effect (Baron & Kenny. 0. making it easier to reject the null hypothesis.10) city. Since there are many citizens controls entered into the model.15) Seriousness -. -0. and an odds ratio of less than one indicated the odds of a vigorous police response declining.04 0. -1. 0. 0. Sobol / Journal of Criminal Justice 38 (2010) 481–488 Table 3 Table 4 Correlation matrix for study variables (n= 1. odds of a more vigorous response.97 study should disappear after controlling for the mediator if. Long (1997) Expects -.09) and district crime significantly correlated with officer cynicism Site -. 0. Step 1 shows a significant relationship between violent crime weapon within jump and reach (odds ratio = 1. 0. Several situational and suspect control variables were significantly related to vigor in the direction hypothesized. vigorous police response was 79 percent greater if the suspect had a dation. Such Wealth -. Table entries include ordered logistic regression coefficients and standard errors in parentheses. Klinger.04 1. in fact.29) district crime were correlated in St. suspects who fled the scene saw the odds of a identified district crime levels as a vital precursor of how police vigorous police response increase by more than 600 percent officer's perceive citizens and how formal legal authority applied. n = 1. while district crime significantly Age -.04 differences are rather significant and point to the likely role of different (0.69 (r = . Indianapolis officers were significantly more (0. only workload and (0.05) (r = .66) (0.79). -.09). -.03 1.11). That is. -0. the significant district crime encountered in each of the seven study districts. Table 4 displays the results from the ordered logistic regression compared to the odds against those not fleeing.98 Disadvantage (0. In contrast. & Mayo.35 0.26) ordered logistic the correct estimation technique.00 Table 3 reports the bivariate correlations between study variables (0.01 1. -. -.8 the study should be interpreted with caution.002 .05. 0. Such findings by officer cynicism and district workload since district crime still has a were consistent with studies reporting that officers were more significant and positive effect on vigor.26). 1981.98*** 7.41 Time (0.04** 1. the mediate the effect of district crime on vigor.15** 11. -. Vigor also significantly Race -.98 -0.01. Ordered logistic regression (0.89 0.09) organizational factors differentially affect vigor. the Discussion and conclusion odds of a vigorous police response increased by 82 percent (odds ratio = 1.85 organizational differences.15) and workload (r = -. Worden & Shepard. and a better approach was to interpret the ways in which Chi Square 9. ** p b .11) vigorous in high crime districts (r = .J.. Smith & Visher. This finding was consistent with others who neighborhood contexts. but see Klinger.08) Drug/Alcohol -.01) (0. or the relationship may be significance of the variables may be overestimated and the results of spurious. & Flavin. Long & Freese.32 suggested that reporting significance levels of the logit coefficients Violence (0.07) and shows that vigor significantly correlated with district crime Concentrated -. One interpretation could be that other district-level predictors inflated to the sample size of the citizen-level variables (other than officer cynicism and district workload) might variables. -0.048 the parameters corresponded to changes in probabilities or odds ratios. 0.486 J. 0. -0.16** 0. In separate analyses controlling for (0. None of the correlation coefficients exceeded .50. ical variables were analyzed. An odds ratio greater than one denoted a positive effect on the * p b . .00 District Crime 0.14 0. *** p b .37** 0.

Stark. Klinger's theory and the mediators presumed to affect the crime and 8. development of officer work rules ignores the impact that intra. because the items used to construct this measure were adapted from First. Controlling for relevant factors. 1943). and level of crime and deviance. departmental differences established here will hopefully stimulate improved empirical tests and suggested that different enforcement priorities in both departments theoretical advancements in future studies that examine the complex might affect the vigor with which police used their formal authority. because there characterize cynicism and alternative measures might yield different were so few homicides across the seven districts in both cities. one of the primary limitations dealt with the unit of 1. which key theoretical variables were operationalized. 1988. such a concern may be inconsequential since crime patterns have been reported to be A third limitation was the problem of unmeasured mediating relatively stable and constant (Bursik. some of the null findings reported here might be 2. the unique crime study do not allow one to test the theory at a smaller level of aggregation.555). Interestingly. constructs across multiple departments with different ecological and Consistent with the theory. Two matters are relevant and worth considering about this particular measure. Measures of officer perceptions of victim deservedness and occupational attitudes are representative of the traditional police culture or more normal crime were not available in the POPN data set. or block levels.g. Opinions or points of view expressed workload. census tract areas. which police work is organizationally structured. workload. 1999). Parks et al. . Perhaps reflecting their more aggressive and get-tough police strategy (DeJong et al. using crime data for only one year might present an inaccurate image of district crime levels and that an average of the violent crime rate officer perceptions of criminal justice system failings since Klinger over a period might be a more powerful indicator of how the crime rate contributed to contended that indicators of criminal justice system failure caused police cynicism. As Notes mentioned. conflation neighborhood problems. vigor. tions to provide a better test of the theory and provide more variation 5. 7. although contrary to ecological correlates on police attitudes (Sobol. (3) the about the effectiveness of vigorous police action. with implications for influencing inclusion of such concepts would provide a more complete test of officer conduct. The patrol district was the focus of police patrol officers and may not apply accurately to supervisors (e. bivariate results indicated that Acknowledgements Indianapolis officers were significantly more vigorous and cynical in high crime areas (see also Fyfe. although. The author wishes to thank Scott W. While difficult to measure. From a theoretical point of view. several limitations existed. and various theoretical expectations. this study opted to use results. thereby making fragmented. Although this was the first systematic empirical analysis of Klinger's theory of social ecology. beats.. relationship between neighborhood context and police behavior. 2001). Sun workload on the crime/vigor relationship. These measures might not adequately between the independent and dependent variable is possible. the bivariate results indicated that officers organizational conditions. Sobol / Journal of Criminal Justice 38 (2010) 481–488 487 It was hypothesized that police would be less vigorous in districts combination with individual level data more appropriately. thereby leading to design with data collection intended to measure key theoretical more leniency as district crime levels increased. One possible explanation is for their helpful and insightful comments and suggestions during the that other variables could mediate the direct effect of district crime on preparation of this manuscript. though cynicism. Data limitations precluded using previous years’ crime data. nor were any of the variables markedly different in areas: (1) multi-level modeling to estimate ecological measures in terms of strength and significance. it is a measure that assessed this a partial test of Klinger's theory. White. Other multivariate models (not shown) were examined and were not able to improve on the model displayed in the text. the findings policies of the National Institute of Justice or the U. However. Data limitations for this “hot spot” locations exist in many neighborhoods. 1971). the findings presented here may be a product of the way in that this measure imposes ordinality on the measurement of vigor when in fact. Although Sergeants). 1970... 3. and the independent variable is violent crime rate. the whether officers perceive citizens in a favorable light. no appreciable increase in the amount of To summarize. 2003). 2010). 1987. Disaggregating ecological shooting data. It would be advantageous for future research to consider the violent crime rate. although it is also possible that the results are spurious. 95-IJ-CX-0071 from the National Institute of Justice In order to test the meditating effect of cynicism and district supported data for this analysis. Workload and examination of and comparison between different ecological corre- greater resource constrains were also predicted to reduce the capacity lates from smaller units of aggregation. Future research might is possible.J. the bivariate findings also showed that vigor forms of police behavior (Terrill & Reisig. however. There are some qualifications. It due to the large district ecological measures.g. It is plausible Second. variable might be less than optimal for a test of Klinger's theory 6. that a police “district” is too large adequately to examine the explore patrol beats. information on whether ecological conditions within those locations 4. the homicide rate might be a better measure of a district's level of crime because official crime rates (UCR data) measure police behavior in the form of taking reports the POPN survey data set that asked general questions about officer (Black. attention should be given to four primary research variation explained is obtained. Phillips and Ivan Y. however. Slight differences were uncovered with police vigor relationship. Lieutenants and cynicism levels. rather than districts). 1986. more or less in terms of the amount of formal authority which is invoked. state and federal Klinger provided several reasons why police behavior might not vary police officers due mainly to the emphasis on geographic location and the manner in markedly across patrol districts in lower spatial levels (e.. J. The cynicism officers might not view it as such. X (district violent crime rate) is hypothesized differentially influence officer attitudes and behavior.g. and (4) the use of a research of the workgroup to deal with problems equally. a series of multivariate regression equations analyzed the in the article do not necessarily represent the official positions or entire sample (n = 1.S. One of the limitations of Klinger's (1997) theory is that it does not specify the size of an area that makes up the ecological environment that affects police behavior. which is hypothesized might also consider additional aggregates across multiple jurisdic. to be causally prior to Y (police vigor). Since the dependent variable in this study is a measure of police perceptions of residents’ willingness to work with them to solve behavior (e. The line of inquiry increased with district crime rate. Since crime important social process that might influence police activity. with each action representing across critical ecological measures. Department of showed little support for the mediating effect of cynicism and district Justice. 2001. Simply presuming the district is the fulcrum for the which future research might build. While he calls his index cooperation. Recent research has begun to consider the were more cynical in high crime districts. (2) the with higher levels of crime because officers would be more cynical refinement of occupational outlook and outcome measures. Future research to be causally prior to Z (police cynicism and district workload). See also White (2001) who examined the impact of administrative policy on district variation in crime and deviance may have on police police shootings using interrupted time series analyses and twenty-three years of perceptions and their approach to the job. He reported that formal administrative policy might be a more level correlates down to the smaller spatial unit may provide significant control over deadly force compared to the personal philosophies of the Chief or Commissioner. Second. Paoline (2001) used the same items in his analysis examining whether variables. Whyte. vigor). since the theory mainly applies to aggregation for this study. It is important to note that this measurement approach assumes that an officer also considers such actions to range along a continuum. alternative model specifications. Grant No. The theory may also be less applicable to nonurban. This partial patterns within these locations might influence officer attitudes and test of Klinger and the role of district level correlates still contributed to our understanding of police behavior and established an empirical foundation from upon behavior..

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