Fear, victimization, and community characteristics on citizen satisfaction with the police

Giovanni Circo (School of Criminal Justice, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA)
Chris Melde (School of Criminal Justice, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA)
Edmund F. Mcgarrell (School of Criminal Justice, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Publication date: 8 April 2019

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the relationship between fear of victimization, actual victimization, and community-level characteristics on citizen satisfaction with police. This study attempts to clarify important factors in how citizens view the police, while accounting for contextual, neighborhood-level variables.

Design/methodology/approach

This study utilized a representative victimization survey conducted in Saginaw, MI in 2015. Utilizing a sample of 824 individuals, an ordinary least-squares model was fit in order to determine the effects of reported victimization, fear of victimization, and neighborhood characteristics on satisfaction with police. The authors utilized interaction terms to model varying effects between the East and West sides of the city.

Findings

The study found that fear of victimization was related to lower satisfaction with police, while actual victimization had an inconsistent effect when community satisfaction and collective efficacy were accounted for. The authors found the effect was present only in the more affluent western portion of the city. Furthermore, the authors found that non-white residents reported much lower satisfaction with police than white residents.

Research limitations/implications

The authors were unable to disaggregate respondents to smaller geographical units than an East\West measure, which limits the authors’ ability to discuss small-scale contexts at the block, or block-group level.

Practical implications

This study suggests that concerted efforts to reduce fear of crime may increase satisfaction with police, but this effect may be based on neighborhood context. Improving collective efficacy and community satisfaction may provide additional ways to improve citizen satisfaction with police.

Originality/value

This paper adds to the literature examining the relationship between victimization, fear of crime, and satisfaction with police.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This project was supported by Grant No. 2014-MU-CX-K037, awarded by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Office of Justice Programs, US Department of Justice. Points of view in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the US Department of Justice.

Citation

Circo, G., Melde, C. and Mcgarrell, E.F. (2019), "Fear, victimization, and community characteristics on citizen satisfaction with the police", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 42 No. 2, pp. 179-194. https://doi.org/10.1108/PIJPSM-08-2017-0097

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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