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An experimental approach analyzing who sees disorder when there is nothing to see: understanding variance of perceptions via personal characteristics

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Knowing that disorder is related to crime, it has become essential for criminologists to understand how and why certain individuals perceive disorder. Using data from the Perceptions of Neighborhood Disorder and Interpersonal Conflict Project, this study uses a fixed photograph

Knowing that disorder is related to crime, it has become essential for criminologists to understand how and why certain individuals perceive disorder. Using data from the Perceptions of Neighborhood Disorder and Interpersonal Conflict Project, this study uses a fixed photograph of a neighborhood, to assess whether individuals "see" disorder cues. A final sample size of n=815 respondents were asked to indicate if they saw particular disorder cues in the photograph. The results show that certain personal characteristics do predict whether an individual sees disorder. Because of the experimental design, results are a product of the individual's personal characteristics, not of the respondent's neighborhood. These findings suggest that the perception of disorder is not as clear cut as once thought. Future research should explore what about these personal characteristics foster the perception of disorder when it is not present, as well as, how to fight disorder in neighborhoods when perception plays such a substantial role.

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2013

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Police innovation: enhancing research and analysis capacity through smart policing

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There has been a tremendous amount of innovation in policing over the last 40 years, from community and problem-oriented policing to hot spots and intelligence-led policing. Many of these innovations have been subjected to empirical testing, with mixed results on

There has been a tremendous amount of innovation in policing over the last 40 years, from community and problem-oriented policing to hot spots and intelligence-led policing. Many of these innovations have been subjected to empirical testing, with mixed results on effectiveness. The latest innovation in policing is the Bureau of Justice Assistance's Smart Policing Initiative (2009). Created in 2009, the SPI provides funding to law enforcement agencies to develop and test evidence-based practices to address crime and disorder. Researchers have not yet tested the impact of the SPI on the funded agencies, particularly with regard to core principles of the Initiative. The most notable of these is the collaboration between law enforcement agencies and their research partners. The current study surveyed SPI agencies and their research partners on key aspects of their Initiative. The current study uses mean score comparisons and qualitative responses to evaluate this partnership to determine the extent of its value and effect. It also seeks to determine the areas of police agency crime analysis and research units that are most in need of enhancement. Findings indicate that the research partners are actively involved in a range of aspects involved in problem solving under the Smart Policing Initiative, and that they have positively influenced police agencies' research and crime analysis functions, and to a lesser extent, have positively impacted police agencies' tactical operations. Additionally, personnel, technology, and training were found to be the main areas of the crime analysis and research units that still need to be enhanced. The thesis concludes with a discussion of the implications of these findings for police policy and practice.

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2013

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Cops, culture, and context: the integration of structural and cultural elements for explanations of police use of force

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This dissertation integrates concepts from three bodies of literature: police use of force, neighborhood/ecological influence on police, and police culture. Prior research has generally found that neighborhood context affects police use of force. While scholars have applied social

This dissertation integrates concepts from three bodies of literature: police use of force, neighborhood/ecological influence on police, and police culture. Prior research has generally found that neighborhood context affects police use of force. While scholars have applied social disorganization theory to understand why neighborhood context might influence use of force, much of this theorizing and subsequent empirical research has focused exclusively on structural characteristics of an area, such as economic disadvantage, crime rates, and population demographics. This exclusive focus has occurred despite the fact that culture was once an important component of social disorganization theory in addition to structural factors. Moreover, the majority of the theorizing and subsequent research on police culture has neglected the potential influence that neighborhood context might have on officers’ occupational outlooks. The purpose of this dissertation is to merge the structural and cultural elements of social disorganization theory in order to shed light on the development and maintenance of police officer culture as well as to further specify the relationship between neighborhood context and police use of force. Using data from the Project on Policing Neighborhoods (POPN), I address three interrelated research questions: 1) does variation of structural characteristics at the patrol beat level, such as concentrated disadvantage, homicide rates, and the percentage of minority citizens, predict how an officer views his/her occupational outlook (i.e., culture)?; 2) do officers who work in the same patrol beats share a similar occupational outlook (i.e., culture) or is there variation?; and 3) does the inclusion of police culture at the officer level moderate the relationship between patrol beat context and police use of force? Findings suggest that a patrol beat’s degree of concentrated disadvantage and homicide rate slightly influence officer culture at the individual level. Results show mixed evidence of a patrol beat culture. There is little support for the idea that characteristics of the patrol beat and individual officer culture interact to influence police use of force. I conclude with a detailed discussion of the methodological, theoretical, and policy implications as well as limitations and directions for future research.

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2016

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Crime at convenience stores: assessing an in-depth problem-oriented policing initiative

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Problem-oriented policing (POP) dynamically addresses unique community issues in a way that allows police departments to be cost-effective and efficient. POP draws upon routine activities and rational choice theories, at times incorporating elements of crime prevention through environmental design. A

Problem-oriented policing (POP) dynamically addresses unique community issues in a way that allows police departments to be cost-effective and efficient. POP draws upon routine activities and rational choice theories, at times incorporating elements of crime prevention through environmental design. A recent systematic review found POP to be hugely popular, but not rigorously assessed or implemented. In 2009, the Glendale, Arizona Police Department and researchers from Arizona State University received funding through the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s (BJA) Smart Policing Initiative (SPI) to target crime at convenience stores through a problem-oriented policing approach. The Glendale SPI team devised an approach that mirrored the ideals put forth by Goldstein (1990), and provided a thorough undertaking of the SARA model. A comprehensive response plan was developed with several proposed responses, including: intervention with Circle K leadership, suppression, and prevention at the six highest-activity stores. Despite a thorough POP implementation, the initial descriptive evaluation of the Glendale SPI reported positive effects on crime, but left questions about the intervention’s long-term impact on convenience store crime in Glendale, Arizona. The policy and theoretical influence of the initiative warrants a more rigorous evaluation. Supplanting the original assessment, a difference in difference model, negative binomial regression, and relative effect size are calculated to ascertain the SPI’s long-term effects on target and comparison stores. Phi and weighted displacement quotient are calculated to determine the existence of displacement of crime or diffusion of benefits. Overall, results indicate support for the project’s effectiveness on crime reduction. Further, none of the six intervention stores experienced crime displacement. Five of the six stores, however, experienced a diffusion of benefits in the surrounding 500-yard area; that is, a crime reduction was observed at the intervention stores and in the surrounding areas of five of these stores. Disorder and property crimes at the targeted stores were most affected by the intervention. One of the intervention stores did experience an increase in violent crime, however. Future studies should strengthen the methodological design when evaluating POP projects and seek to flesh out more precisely the crime control effects of unique problem-oriented strategies.

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2016