TitleHow patrol officers construct and use demographic maps to navigate the social landscapes of their towns of employ
NameReck, Paul (author), Hirschfield, Paul (chair), Lee, Catherine (internal member), Carr, Patrick (internal member), Dinzey-Flores, Zaire (internal member), Bashi-Treitler, Vilna (outside member), Carlson, Kenneth (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
Demographic surveys--Design and construction,
DescriptionIn an effort to explain persistent racial disparities in criminal justice outcomes, this project investigates how patrol officers construct cognitive maps of various racial, ethnic, and class groups as a means of navigating the social terrain of their towns of employ. In particular, I explore how various structural and cultural features of local communities shape and condition officers' social group schemata in order to determine the influence that communal contexts have on officers' social cognition, and ultimately, their approaches to policing various racial, ethnic, and class groups. Drawing upon 49 ethnographic ride-along interviews and observations with officers in three suburban towns of varying racial, ethnic, and class diversity, I found that communal factors relating to power, culture, and space play a significant role in conditioning officers' social group schemata, and that officers within a particular town collectively construct and share racial and other social group schemata that differ in important ways from those of officers in other towns. My findings regarding the substantial degree of between town variation in officers' social group schemata challenges the notion that cognition relating to race and other social categories is a rather static, uniform process guided by subconscious racial, ethnic, and class stereotypes that are part of a macro-societal schema. In addition, my findings call into question conflict theory's fundamental premise that police officers routinely do the bidding of powerful groups at the expense of powerless groups. My findings demonstrate that even where officers in different towns share similar, negative, stereotypical views of certain racial, ethnic, and class groups, the structural constraints in some communities effectively preclude officers from targeting such groups or otherwise treating them inequitably. Above all else, my findings highlight how both social cognition and policing are heavily dependent on communal context.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references (p. 522-533)
Noteby Paul Reck
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.