Society places great trust in the police to uphold and protect the law. People who have a duty to protect (vs. no duty) and violate the institution they are supposed to safeguard are often judged more harshly. I test whether people will punish an on-duty police officers more severely for committing a violent crime compared to an off-duty officer or a civilian. I hypothesized that this effect might be enhanced when a perpetrator commits a violent crime against an African-American compared to a Caucasian.
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