Law Enforcement Research Paper

A recent National Academies of Sciences review supports existing research that proactive policing strategies seem to lower crime (1).However, that same report laments that quantitative research on proactive policing has mostly ignored effects on crime rates over long periods of time and with youth.

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The existing literature, however, does not explore what the short and long-term effects of police contact are for young people who are subjected to high rates of contact with law enforcement as a result of proactive policing.

The report also acknowledges a growing body of literature that suggests that proactive policing can negatively affect the public legitimacy of law enforcement (3, 4), even motivating avoidance of law-related officials altogether (5–8).

Finally, the report laments a dearth of quantitative research on the effects of proactive policing on racial disparities or youth criminality.

Four waves of longitudinal survey data demonstrate that contact with law enforcement predicts increases in black and Latino adolescents’ self-reported criminal behaviors 6, 12, and 18 months later.

These results are partially mediated by psychological distress.


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