The purpose of this study was to address several questions to elaborate on the relationship between policing, legitimacy and law-related behaviors. These questions were asked in a research setting, New York City, where street stop tactics saturate many neighborhoods and where in turn, young men are frequently and intensively exposed to a policing regime.
The first question analyzed was whether legitimacy influences respondents' law related behavior. The premise of this analysis is that legitimacy is important because it shapes how people act in relationship to the law. Here, this premise was tested by looking at the relationship between legitimacy and three important potential or ongoing behaviors: recent violent/criminal behavior; willingness to cooperate with the police by reporting crime and criminals; and willingness to cooperate with the legal system by serving on a jury.
The second question analyzed was whether street/car stops influence legitimacy. This question was addressed both by looking at the number of street stops that people have experienced and the degree to which the stops involved more intense intrusions by the police into respondent's lives and liberty.
The third question addressed involved an analysis of the role of psychological judgments about the justice or injustice of police actions during stops in shaping reactions to the police.
Finally, the analysis directly tests the underlying argument that stops undermine behavior by examining the influence of legitimacy upon three key variables: criminal activity; cooperation with the police; and cooperation with the courts.
This study used a two-wave panel design to sample 18-26 year old males in selected neighborhoods within New York City including Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Staten Island. Some 1,261 baseline and 722 follow-up interviews were completed with this target population. The survey measured experiences and perceptions regarding neighborhood safety, police effectiveness, police fairness, personal experience with the NYPD, perceptions of discrimination, and willingness to cooperate with police. The wave 2 follow up survey in addition to the same questions from wave 1 survey, also asked a series of questions about mental health. The wave 1 baseline data collection was conducted using computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) with land line and cell phone samples. The wave 2 interviews were conducted via CATI and web. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish.
Using data on police stop activity in all 146 neighborhoods of New York City, neighborhoods with higher stop counts were selected with higher probability compared to lower stop count neighborhoods. A total 37 neighborhoods were selected. Wave 1 survey respondents were sampled through the following three sources, land line random digit dial (RDD) frame (n = 408), the cell RDD frame (n = 174), and a list of households with land line telephones that were likely to contain a young adult (n = 679). Wave 1 respondents were re-contacted for the wave 2 interview via land line or cell, whichever preference the respondent indicated during the wave 1 interview. Wave 1 respondents were also emailed and mailed invitation letters with a link to complete the survey on-line and an option to call a toll free 800 line to complete the survey over the phone. Respondents with email addresses were sent reminder emails before being contacted to complete the interview over the phone. Of the 722 wave 2 interviews, 365 were completed on the web and 357 were completed via computer-assisted telephone interview (CATI).
18 to 26 year old men living in New York City.
Street Stops and Police Legitimacy: Accountability and Legal Socialization in Everyday Policing of Young Adults in New York City, 2012-2013 data (n = 1,261) contains 323 variables from both wave 1 and wave 2 surveys on:
Respondent Information: interview collection details; respondent's age, gender, race, education, neighborhood, and length of residence in neighborhood; and in the past 12 months how many times respondent injured someone in a fight, stolen, carried a weapon, sold drugs, arrested, received a summons, been on probation, and served time in jail.
Neighborhood safety: respondent's opinion on their neighborhood, such as if there are graffiti, open alcohol consumption, people arguing or fighting, and how safe they feel walking around in the evening.
Police effectiveness: respondent's opinion on police effectiveness, such as preventing crime, catching criminals, helping people, and responding in a timely way; respondent's views on police through personal experience, experiences of friends/neighbors/family, and news media; and if respondent know any or how many of neighborhood police officers by sight or name.
Police fairness: level/quality of police services received by people of respondent's racial background, and how much police take into consideration views of people like the respondent on how problems should be handled.
Personal experience with New York City Police Department: number of times the respondent has been approached by the police on the street, in a car, and in their neighborhood; details of the interaction with police, such as if they were asked for identification, was searched, physical force or harsh language was used, and if they were arrested; respondent's opinion on the interaction with police, such as if the stop was legitimate, that they were fairly treated, if police was influenced by the respondent's racial background, if police respected respondent's rights, and how respondent felt at the time of the interaction.
Neighborhood stops: respondent's recollection about police stop in their neighborhood, such as do police stop people in the street/car and question/search them, use harsh/insulting language, and threaten to use physical force; respondent's opinion on how often does the police follow the law in deciding whom to stop, stop people without good reason, fairly make decisions, and consider race when deciding whom to stop.
Attitudes about the law, law enforcement, and morality: respondent's attitudes on the law, such as if laws are meant to be broken, if laws protect the interest of the respondent, and people do not need to obey a law if they had nothing to do with making the law; respondent's opinion on police in general, such as overall police are honest, police treat everyone equally regardless of race, and should follow the decisions of the police.
Willingness to cooperate with the police: respondent's opinion on how willing they were to report someone from their neighborhood who has broken a law and if not why not, if they would report a crime that they knew about or witnessed, how likely they would to provide information to police, and how willing they would be to serve on a jury.
The following variables are only from the wave 2 survey: if respondent was ever physically assaulted, injured, sought and received medical care, ever seen anyone assaulted, been in a serious accident where someone was injured, and seen someone killed by violence; respodent was born in the United States, parents were born in the United States, and if they live at the same place as when they were interviewed before.
Survey variables: wave 1 and wave 2 weights, final neighborhood code, and if there was a wave 2 interview.
Wave 1 survey 34%
Wave 2 survey 57%
Several Likert-type scales were used.