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Representative policing and violence toward the police

Conflict theories suggest that groups lacking access to the political process, such as racial minorities, may resort to violence to achieve their goals and protest against injustice perpetuated by the state. Given their visibility, police officers may be particularly vulnerable to striking out by politically excluded groups; however, no research of which we are aware has examined how racial demographics within police departments, relative to the communities served, impacts violence against officers. Drawing on the racial threat perspective, we hypothesized that jurisdictions where the police are less representative of the community served would experience a greater number of assaults against police. Findings indicate that while population size and aggravated assault rates are strongly predictive of assaults against police, the relationship between minority representation and assaults against police is not consistent with expectations: as the representation ratio increases within departments, so too does the number of assaults on police.


Barrick, K., Hickman, M., & Strom, K. (2014). Representative policing and violence toward the police. Policing (Oxford): a journal of policy and practice, 8(2), 193-204. https://doi.org/doi:10.1093/police/pau013

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