NEIGHBORHOOD CONTEXT AND POLICE BEHAVIOR: AN EXPLORATORY STUDY OF THE FACTORS THAT INFLUENCE POLICE USE OF FORCE BEHAVIOR IN DISADVANTAGED NEIGHBORHOODS
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Previous empirical research suggests that patrol officers' arrest and use of force behaviors are differentially distributed across neighborhood contexts. Using a qualitative interview approach, this exploratory study elaborates upon earlier findings by investigating if officers' use of force behavior (particularly on the verbal end of the force continuum) in a police-suspect encounter varies by neighborhood context in the small community of Plum Town. Specifically, this study attempts to provide a clearer understanding of the mechanisms through which officers interpret their beat and the extent to which certain neighborhood factors play a role in influencing their actions. In Plum Town, situational and individual level factors -in particular, the need for officer safety and previous police experience-- lead officers to lower their verbal use of force threshold and increasingly threaten arrest. However, the interviews suggest that, to some extent, these variables are rooted in and influenced by place.