The purpose of this paper is to provide a comprehensive literature review of empirical studies that have examined perceptions and attitudes of the police across various racial and ethnic groups. The specific focus aimed to highlight if minorities perceive the police differently compared to their white counterparts.
A systematic literature search of various academic databases (Criminal Justice Abstracts, EBSCO Host, Web of Science, etc.) was conducted. Searches on Google Scholar were also conducted to locate empirical articles that are presently forthcoming in academic journals.
The meta-review identified 92 studies that matched the selection criteria. The majority of the studies focussed on black/white, non-white/white, and black/Hispanic/white comparisons. Overall, individuals who identified themselves as black, non-white, or minority were more likely to hold negative perceptions and attitudes toward the police compared to whites. This finding held regardless of the measures used to operationalize attitudes and various dependent variables surrounding the police. Hispanics tended to have more positive views of the police compared to blacks, yet more negative views than whites.
The present study provided a systematic literature search of studies that were included in two prior reviews (i.e. Decker, 1985; Brown and Benedict, 2002), but also updated the literature based on research that was conducted after 2002. Different exclusion restrictions were also used in the current study compared to earlier research. These restrictions add to the originality/value of the present meta-review in light of current events in the media which have focussed on minority perceptions of the police.
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