Police violence and associations with public perceptions of the police

Ashley N. Jackson, Lisa Fedina, Jordan Devylder, Richard P. Barth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Police violence (PV) continues to be a national and global concern. Empirical inquiries focus on its prevalence, those who are most at risk, and associated mental health effects and frequently include all-male samples. Studies also tend to narrowly measure PV as incidents of physical force or fatal encounters. Our study examined these gaps in knowledge by exploring police neglect and psychological, physical, and sexual violence perpetrated by police to examine how these forms of PV relate to perceptions of police legitimacy/trust, police effectiveness, and police performance. Method: Using data from the 2017 Survey of Police-Public Encounters—a cross-sectional, demographically representative survey of adults in Baltimore, MD, and New York, NY (N = 1, 000)—we assessed detailed forms of PV using the Police Practices Inventory. Results: Regression results indicated that most forms of PV were significantly and inversely associated with police perceptions. Individuals exposed to PV who were younger, female, had lower levels of education and income, identified as a racial/ethnic minority, and were born in the United States held more negative police perceptions. Conclusions: Findings provide insight into the ways specific forms of PV exposure influence how the police are perceived and how those perspectives vary across demographic factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)303-326
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of the Society for Social Work and Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2021


  • Gender
  • Perceptions of police
  • Police violence
  • Racial/ethnic minority
  • Sexual minority

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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