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The purpose of this paper is to examine whether homophily – whereby people are influenced by those perceived as similar to themselves – affects attitudes toward police…
The purpose of this paper is to examine whether homophily – whereby people are influenced by those perceived as similar to themselves – affects attitudes toward police misconduct. Specifically, whether demographic dissimilarity between police chief executive law enforcement officers (CEOs) and subordinates is related to differences in perceptions of misconduct.
The data for this research are drawn from the National Police Research Platform. Multilevel mixed-effects regression modeling is used to analyze data from 78 randomly selected US police agencies (78 law enforcement CEOs and 10,709 officers from those agencies).
The main finding is that demographic dissimilarity between the CEO and subordinates is associated with differences in attitudes about police deviance, net of other factors.
The results exemplify the need to diversify police agencies at all levels, not just the lower ranks. Because employees were found to be more similar to those one step (up or down) from one another on the organizational hierarchy, diversifying at all levels of the police organizations will help to reduce the social distance between those in closer ranks, which could ameliorate the dissimilarity effect. Likewise, police agencies may need to adopt new management strategies to compensate for a diversifying workforce.
This study builds on previous research and investigates an understudied topic in the policing literature by assessing the extent to which dissimilarity is related to attitudinal congruence about workplace deviance in police organizations.