Policing on Demand: An Observational Study of Mobilization and Citizen Encounters across Communities
Conover, Theresa Ervin
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Abstract Police scholars generally accept that officers behave differently across communities and that those differences are influenced by specific community-level measures. This consensus is based on surprisingly scant empirical support, however. Studies designed to identify and explain community variation in police behavior have thus far largely ignored the issue of mobilization, or the various ways in which communities demand police services. This study provides information on how communities influence police using data collected through the systematic social observation of police officers. The study includes measures designed to capture the specific manner in which the police were mobilized, including instances where the police were dispatched through calls-for-service as well as non-dispatched activities. Findings demonstrate that communities vary in regard to both the types of problems handled by the police and the manner in which the police are mobilized. These differences are correlated with specific community-level measures.