How neighborhoods matter in fatal interactions between police and men of color

Odis Johnson, Christopher St. Vil, Keon L. Gilbert, Melody Goodman, Cassandra Arroyo Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This article addresses the concern that death by legal intervention is a health outcome disproportionately experienced by boys and men of color, and predicated on the quality of the locations in which encounters with law enforcement occur. Using a more comprehensive cross-verified sample of police homicides from online databases and a nationally representative sample of law enforcement agencies, this study examines whether neighborhood social disorganization, minority threat, and defense of inequality theories help explain the odds that males of color will have a fatal interaction with police (FIP). There are several noteworthy results. First, in support of the defense of inequality thesis, we found that income inequality within the area in which a FIP occurred is related to increased relative odds of fatal injury for males of color and Hispanic males. Second, consistent with the minority threat thesis, we found low levels of racial segregation dramatically reduced the odds of a FIP for Black males while higher levels of segregation increased the odds for Hispanic males. Third, Hispanic males were over 2.6 times as likely as others to be killed by officers from agencies with relatively higher percentages of Hispanic officers. We conclude the study with a discussion of its implications for research and policy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)226-235
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume220
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2019

Keywords

  • Gender
  • Multi-level modeling
  • Neighborhoods
  • Police homicides
  • Race

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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