This research updates and expands upon Decker’s article “Citizen attitudes toward the police: a review of past findings and suggestions for future policy” by summarizing the findings from more than 100 articles on perceptions of and attitudes toward the police. Initially, the value of research on attitudes toward the police is discussed. Then the research pertaining to the impact of individual level variables (e.g. race) and contextual level variables (e.g. neighborhood) on perceptions of the police is reviewed. Studies of juveniles’ attitudes toward the police, perceptions of police policies and practices, methodological issues and conceptual issues are also discussed. This review of the literature indicates that only four variables (age, contact with police, neighborhood, and race) have consistently been proven to affect attitudes toward the police. However, there are interactive effects between these and other variables which are not yet understood; a finding which indicates that theoretical generalizations about attitudes toward police should be made with caution.
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