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Exploring police-resident racial equality and violent crime

Victoria A. Sytsma (Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice

ISSN: 2056-3841

Article publication date: 9 March 2015




Residential segregation based on race/ethnicity is associated with higher crime rates. However, when there is greater diversity within a neighbourhood, there may be less clustering of crime. One sign of such diversity beyond direct measures of racial similarity may be the proportion of minority officers employed by municipal police departments. As such, the purpose of this paper is to test the effect of the proportion of minority police officers on violent crime within minority communities, controlling for residential segregation.


Multi-level modelling of 91 American cities from the 2000 National Neighbourhood Crime Study was used.


It was found that as minority populations within census tracts increase, violent crime also increases; and crime is associated with an increase in segregation. However, racial composition of police departments can moderate the impact that community racial composition has on violent crime.


The current findings point to crime control strategies relevant to municipalities which focus on creating neighbourhoods of racial heterogeneity and more diverse police agencies.



The author would like to acknowledge the helpful feedback of Robert Apel, Rod K. Brunson, and Elizabeth Griffiths on earlier drafts of this manuscript.


Sytsma, V.A. (2015), "Exploring police-resident racial equality and violent crime", Journal of Criminological Research, Policy and Practice, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 4-18.



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