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Policy, Racial Threat, and Economic Conditions: A Look at Police Use of Deadly Force


Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/10260

Policy, Racial Threat, and Economic Conditions: A Look at Police Use of Deadly Force

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Title: Policy, Racial Threat, and Economic Conditions: A Look at Police Use of Deadly Force
Author: Nowacki, Jeffrey S., 1979-
Advisor(s): Broidy, Lisa
Committee Member(s): Lyons, Christopher
Roberts, Aki
Department: University of New Mexico. Dept. of Sociology
Subject: Police
Deadly Force
Racial Threat
LC Subject(s): Police shootings--United States--Social aspects
Police shootings--United States--Psychological aspects
Police shootings--United States--Economic aspects
Degree Level: Masters
Abstract: In general, the literature suggests that police behaviors, such as the use of lethal force, can be controlled by placing limits on police discretion. One way to achieve this is through policy. Officers tend to use lethal force less frequently in cities where restrictive deadly force policies are in place. By the same token, research indicates that lethal force incidents are more prevalent in cities with 1) larger minority populations, and 2) greater levels of economic disadvantage. In this study, I examine how each of these factors (policy, minority population size, and economic disadvantage) affect police use of deadly force independent of each other, and whether policy mediates the effect of the other variables. Using data from the Supplementary Homicide Reports from 1980-1984, I use negative binomial regression models to examine how racial threat, economic disadvantage, and restrictive policy affect police use of deadly force, whether policy mediates the effects of these other variables, and finally, whether the effects of policy are conditional on city-level threat and disadvantage. I estimate models for both total population and race-specific models so that I can test whether the effects on police use of lethal force vary between blacks and whites. Results indicate strong direct effects for policy, but not racial threat or economic disadvantage. Further, no mediating or conditional effects were found. These findings suggest that police discretion can play an important role in controlling police behavior, such as the use of deadly force.
Graduation Date: December 2009
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/10260

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