Perceptions of discrimination and justice in New York City

Stephen K. Rice, Alex R. Piquero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - There has been limited analysis on the intersections of race, gender, inequality (e.g. education, income), and procedural/distributive justice and the perceived prevalence of racially biased policing. Using data from a sample of New York City residents who were asked to judge the New York City Police Department on measures related to racially biased policing and to procedural/distributive justice, this paper builds a perception of discrimination composite tied to perceived personal experience with officer bias and to beliefs regarding the perceived prevalence and justification for such behavior. Design/methodology/approach - First, the bivariate relation between race and the perception of discrimination composite is examined. Then, logistic regression is employed to explain the composite with the complement of demographic and attitudinal variables. Finally, split sample analyses are conducted to examine demographic and attitudinal variables separately for blacks and non-blacks. Findings - Blacks were three times more likely than non-blacks to perceive that racially biased policing was widespread, unjustified, and personally experienced, and this finding held after controlling for demographic and attitudinal variables. It suggests that the "black effect" operates independently of income and education, raising questions about the claim that race has made way for class in key aspects of social life. Originality/value - By focusing on issues of power and control, the police define their interactions with members of the public in very specific ways, and such power orientations may lead to increased conflict. The present study suggests that a disproportionate subset of NYC residents perceive general and specific discriminatory action related to racially biased policing and procedural injustice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-117
Number of pages20
JournalPolicing: An International Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Attitudes
  • Bias
  • Discrimination
  • Justice
  • Police
  • United States of America

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