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The Politics of Inclusion: Black Political Incorporation and the Use of Lethal Force

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Scholarship on the incorporation of Blacks in government and politics has focused on electoral gains and representational styles, but the broad, substantive benefits of inclusion have yet to be established. Utilizing data from 1994 to 2004 for 30 of the 60 largest U.S. cities, random-effects negative binomial regressions for panel data show that the political incorporation of Black elected officials reduces the likelihood of the incidence of lethal force over time, with significance reaching the .01 level in each of 3 models. This study confirms that inclusion contributes to democratic policing by reducing enforcement costs and increasing legitimacy.
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The Politics of Inclusion: Black Political
Incorporation and the Use of Lethal
Force
Holona Leanne Ochs a
a Department of Political Science, Lehigh University, Bethlehem,
Pennsylvania, USA
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To cite this article: Holona Leanne Ochs (2011): The Politics of Inclusion: Black Political Incorporation
and the Use of Lethal Force, Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice, 9:3, 238-265
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Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice, 9:238–265, 2011
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ISSN: 1537-7938 print / 1537-7946 online
DOI: 10.1080/15377938.2011.594363
The Politics of Inclusion: Black Political
Incorporation and the Use of Lethal Force
HOLONA LEANNE OCHS
Department of Political Science, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA
Scholarship on the incorporation of Blacks in government and pol-
itics has focused on electoral gains and representational styles, but
the broad, substantive benefits of inclusion have yet to be estab-
lished. Utilizing data from 1994 to 2004 for 30 of the 60 largest
U.S. cities, random-effects negative binomial regressions for panel
data show that the political incorporation of Black elected officials
reduces the likelihood of the incidence of lethal force over time,
with significance reaching the .01 level in each of 3 models. This
study confirms that inclusion contributes to democratic policing by
reducing enforcement costs and increasing legitimacy.
KEYTERMS Democratic policing, lethal force, political incorpora-
tion, inclusion, police legitimacy
INTRODUCTION
Despite the long history of Black candidates and representatives in the United
States (e.g., the vice presidential bid of Frederick Douglas in 1872, presiden-
tial hopefuls Representative Shirley Chisholm in 1972 and Senator Carol
Moseley Braun in 2004, Louisiana Governor P. B. S. Pinchback for 32 days
that spanned 1872–1873, Virginia Governor Douglas Wilder from 1990 to
1994, and the 81 Black mayors in 1970 to the more than 500 Black mayors
across the United States today) and, most recently, the election of President
Barack Obama, political discourse continues to question whether Americans
broadly are “ready” for Black elected officials. This kind of political rhetoric
Submitted July 2010; resubmitted January 2011; accepted February 2011.
This research was supported by research funds provided by Lehigh University in 2009.
Gratitude is hereby expressed to Lehigh University.
Address correspondence to Holona LeAnne Ochs, Department of Political Science, Lehigh
University, Room 313, Maginnes Hall, 9 West Packer Avenue, Bethlehem, PA 18015. E-mail:
hlo209@lehigh.edu
238
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Politics of Inclusion 239
serves to perpetuate racial cleavages that parties rely on to mobilize and
demobilize groups of voters (see Mendelberg, 2001).
Race has been a central component in the definition, construction, and
regulation of the polis since the colonial period (Bass, 2001). The debate
over the integration of freed slaves in American society among Black schol-
ars and abolitionists began with the publication of the North Star (the most
influential publication for the emancipation of oppressed people) in 1847,
but the inclusion of Blacks in American society has been a matter of in-
tense debate among the broad public since the passage of the Thirteenth
Amendment outlawed slavery across the United States in 1865. The socially
and legally constructed Black–White racial cleavage in the United States is
particularly paradoxical as it relates to electoral politics. Parties manipulate
racial cleavages to mobilize and demobilize groups (Beckett, 1997; Beckett
& Sasson, 2000; Edsal & Edsal, 1991), and groups face strong pressures from
both within and without to maintain insular identities (Appiah, Gutmann,
& Wilkins, 1996; Du Bois, 1993; Malcolm X, 1970; Pateman & Mills, 2007).
These factors serve to perpetuate racial cleavages despite the fact that re-
solving the problems inherent in identity politics requires a credible political
context that is broadly inclusive (see Sen, 2007). Racial cleavages generate
instability by increasing the cost of law enforcement, undermining the le-
gitimacy of the law, and burdening the police with the impractical task of
maintaining the delicate balance of democratic policing on fractured ground
(Tyler, 2004a).
Scholarship on the incorporation of Blacks in government and politics
has focused on when, where, and how Blacks have gained elective office
(see Engstrom & McDonald, 1982; Sass & Pittman, 2000) as well as how the
racial identity of elected officials affects their voting behavior (Canon, 1999;
Tate, 2003; Whitby, 1997) and their representational style (Canon, 1999;
Fenno, 2003). The positive relationship posited between Black representa-
tion and Blacks’ level of trust, efficacy, and political participation is referred
to by some scholars as Black empowerment (Banducci, Donovan, & Karp,
2004; Bobo & Gilliam, 1990; Tate, 2003), and Marschall and Ruhil (2007)
demonstrated that Blacks report higher levels of satisfaction with govern-
ment when represented by Black elected officials, particularly when there
are conspicuous improvements in public services. Other scholars have con-
ceptualized these notions in terms of descriptive and symbolic representation
(Pitkin, 1967) and have examined the effect on active or substantive repre-
sentation (Haider-Markel, Joslyn, & Kniss, 2000). These studies and others
have regularly found that descriptive representation influences the behavior
and attitudes of constituents (Gay, 2002) and is often conditioned upon so-
cietal identification (Theobald & Haider-Markel, 2009; Tyler & Huo, 2002).
Representative bureaucracy theorists have also used these ideas to under-
stand the conditions in which descriptive representation might lead to active
representation (Meier, 1975, 1993; Meier & Smith, 1994; Meier, Wrinkle, &
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240 H. L. Ochs
Polinard, 1999), and a number of diverse outcomes have been linked to mi-
nority representation, including the distribution of public expenditures and
services (Eisinger, 1982) and the implementation of police reforms (Jacobs,
1998; Saltzstein, 1989). Considerable attention has been given to the extent to
which Black elected officials effectively represent Black constituencies (see
Canon, 1999; Fenno, 2003; Guinier, 1995; Marschall & Ruhil, 2007; Swain,
1993; Tate, 2003; Whitby, 1997). However, the broad, substantive benefits of
the incorporation of Blacks in government and politics remain a neglected
aspect of the literature.
Does Black political incorporation influence democratic policing? Does
representation by Black elected officials benefit the public broadly? This
study reveals that Black elected officials offer substantive benefits to demo-
cratic governance that foster legitimacy in the rule of law. The results show
that the incorporation of Black citizens in government and politics con-
tributes to democratic policing by affecting police actions in a manner that
reduces enforcement costs, minimizes risk of legal action against the police,
and increases legitimacy.
This article proceeds as follows. First, the theoretical basis of this exam-
ination of Black political incorporation and democratic policing is outlined.
Second, the data and measures utilized to understand police–public interac-
tions in the context of urban policing in a democratic society are described.
Third, the statistical models estimated are explained. Lastly, I discuss the
theory, case, and test and provide suggestions for further study.
THEORETICAL OVERVIEW
Black Political Incorporation and Public Safety
Democratic institutions that are unrepresentative of the whole tend to
heighten existing inequities in economic, political, and social status (Verba,
Schlozman, & Brady, 1995). Concentrations of political and economic power
institutionalize inequalities that contribute to patterns of “criminalization” and
violence (Marable, Middlemass, & Steinberg, 2008). Crime is typified in Amer-
ican culture as a Black phenomenon to the extent that there is widespread
support for increasingly punitive responses to crime grounded in a “belief
system that constructs crime in terms of race and race in terms of crime”
(Roberts, 1993, p. 1947; see also Beckett & Sasson, 2000). “Modern racism”
eschews overt expressions of superiority and hostility in place of a fear of
crime that inextricably links violence, gangs, drugs, and crime with Black
people (Chiricos, Welch, & Gertz, 2004). Political leaders and local law en-
forcement officials have marketed crime, convincing the public that crime is
a bigger problem than it is (Chambliss, 1999) and transforming the nation
into a “culture of control” (Garland, 2001). Moreover, there is significant ev-
idence that the control of so-called dangerous classes is the primary target
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Politics of Inclusion 241
of this criminal justice expansion (Beckett & Western, 2001; Blalock, 1967;
Bridges & Crutchfield, 1988; Fording, 2001; Garland, 1990; Jackson, 1989;
Jackson & Carroll, 1981; Jacobs, 1979; Kinder & Sanders, 1996; Sharp, 2006)
and that the destabilizing effects of such disparities are mitigated by Black
political mobilization (K. B. Smith, 2004; Yates & Fording, 2005). Research
has also shown that the election of Black leaders at the city level can em-
power Black residents and dispel the fears of non-Black residents (Gilliam,
1996; Marschall & Ruhil, 2007).
An American Public Health Association study revealed that the rela-
tive risk of police violence victimization is significantly higher for minori-
ties (Gjelsvik & Zierler, 2002). Political and organizational pressures to “get
tough” on crime impact officer conduct (Skogan & Meares, 2004). A sub-
stantial body of literature establishes the disproportionate effects of police
procedures and wrongdoing on Black citizens (Bass, 2001; Brunson, 2007;
Brunson & Miller, 2006; Jacobs & O’Brien, 1998; Kane, 2002; Mastrofski,
Reisig, & McCluskey, 2002; Meehan & Ponder, 2002; Terrill & Reisig, 2003).
Police actions can contribute to racial tensions, trigger riots, block le-
gitimate minority aspirations, and shape perceptions of justice and equality
(Altshuler, 1970; Hahn, 1971; Rossi, Berk, & Edison, 1974; Tyler, 2004b), and
Black mayors have been shown to affect the implementation of police poli-
cies that attempt to prevent the documented abuses of the Black community
by the police (Saltzstein, 1989). Research suggests that the presence of Black
elected officials increases the likelihood that Black interests are represented
in the policy process (Bratton, 2002; Lim, 2006; Mladenka, 1989; Saltzstein,
1989). Policies that are more responsive to minorities are increasingly sig-
nificant in the face of vast criminal justice disparities, as perceptions of the
legitimacy of police actions are also conditioned upon race (Theobald &
Haider-Markel, 2009). Police administrators have greater incentives to curb
police violence if the mayor is Black (Jacobs & O’Brien, 1998). Black mayors
positively influence Black representation in city administrative, professional,
and protective services positions (Eisinger, 1982; Mladenka, 1989; Sass &
Mehay, 2003) and minimize the gap between Black and White levels of
trust in government (Bobo & Gilliam, 1990). In fact, Black representation on
city councils improves the perceptions of the legitimacy of law enforcement
of citizens who are Black and those who are not Black as well (Marschall
& Shah, 2007). Black satisfaction with police services improves under the
administration of Black mayors, particularly when there are conspicuous im-
provements in city services (Marschall & Ruhil, 2007). Adequate levels of
trust and satisfaction in government are essential to legitimate, substantive,
and stable democratic governance (Putnam, 2000) and are particularly rel-
evant to the practice of democratic policing (Walker, 2005). When people
view the police as legitimate authorities, they are subsequently more likely
to engage in compliance with the law and deference to the police (Tyler,
2004a; Tyler & Huo, 2002).
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242 H. L. Ochs
Structural Determinants of Lethal Force
Blalock’s (1967) racial threat hypothesis suggests that dominant populations
are likely to be threatened in areas with a larger population of racial minori-
ties. The relationship is hypothesized to be curvilinear. The theory indicates
that the perceived threat to the status quo increases as the Black popula-
tion increases until the population reaches a point at which policy may be
affected by their numbers. Empirical evidence shows that fear of crime is
associated with the percentage of Black people in cities when crime is held
constant (Liska, Lawrence, & Sanchirico, 1982; Skogan, 1995; Webster, 2007)
and that the response to crime is conditioned upon the racial subpopulation
irrespective of the actual rate of crime (K. B. Smith, 2004; Yates & Fording,
2005). Because officers are primarily expected to preserve order, the prob-
ability that the police will use force in response to the pressure to maintain
order increases in the absence of adequate restraints (Bittner, 1990; Chevi-
gny, 1995). Consequently, police violence is more likely in cities in which
strong political and economic divisions contribute to disincentives for priv-
ileged groups to interfere with the police because of the perceived threat
of the “underclass” (Hughes, 1963). In addition to the perceived threat of
“criminalized” racial minorities, economic and educational inequalities pro-
duce unstable social conditions that are maintained through violence or the
threat of violence (see Jacobs & O’Brien, 1998).
Considerable evidence suggests that the fear of crime by the majority is
related to the presence and visibility of culturally dissimilar groups (Liska &
Baccaglini, 1990; Liska, Lawrence, & Benson, 1981; Liska et al., 1982; Web-
ster, 2007). Higher levels of police violence are experienced in communities
with a higher proportion of racial minorities (Jacobs & Britt, 1979; Jacobs &
O’Brien, 1998). Evidence of racial threat indicates that the threat to the status
quo posed by racial minorities might generate increasingly oppressive efforts
to control the subpopulation as the population of that target group increases
to the extent that racial subgroups are integrated into the social and political
processes (K. B. Smith, 2004; Stolzenberg, D’Alessio, & Eitle, 2004; Yates &
Fording, 2005). Other evidence of racial threat reveals that very low popula-
tions of racial subgroups may be subject to more oppression resulting from
opportunity hoarding (Romero & Margolis, 2005), and very high populations
of racial subgroups may experience backlash (Sharp, 2006).
The differential crime thesis contrasts racial threat theory, insisting that
Blacks are more subject to the penalties, punishments, and consequences
of law enforcement because Blacks are supposedly more prone than Whites
to participate in illegal activities (see Sampson & Wilson, 2005). Despite
the fact that Blacks have a consistently high risk of being stopped by the
police while walking, biking, or driving and are significantly more likely
to be searched by the police, Blacks are not as likely to be in violation
of the law (National Research Council, 2004; Totman & Steward, 2006).
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Politics of Inclusion 243
Moreover, the police are less inclined to arrest Whites accused of committing
a violent crime against a Black person (Eitle, Stolzenberg, & D’Alessio, 2005;
Stolzenberg et al., 2004). Sampson and Wilson’s (2005) contention that Blacks
are more likely to be victims of police brutality because they are more likely
to be offenders and that reducing the rate of offending among Blacks is
necessary in order to minimize the likelihood of police brutality is akin to
what Katheryn Russell (1998) referred to as blaming the victim. Contrary to
the racial threat hypothesis, differential threat suggests that Blacks compel
the police to be brutal toward them.
Poverty isolation and racial segregation are systems of social control in
which the police may be called upon more frequently to control the so-called
dangerous classes and may be less restrained in the efficient enforcement
of order (Jacobs & O’Brien, 1998; Liska, 1992). Both poverty isolation and
segregation are structural inequalities that constrain opportunities, but the
evidence on the relationships among race, class, and violence is mixed (see
Shihadeh, 2009). An alternative hypothesis to the contentions of conflict the-
ory comes from the notion of benign neglect, which has its origins in a
memo Daniel Patrick Moynihan presented then-President Nixon in 1970 rec-
ommending that fire services neglect communities deemed undeserving. The
language of the memo implied that poor people are lawless, pathological,
and irredeemably antisocial. Although neglect is not benign, the argument
is that interventions do more harm, and it is expected that the widespread
application of such policies might result in a situation in which increasing
poverty isolation and racial segregation may lead to the neglect of those
areas. Evidence of benign neglect should be interpreted as a reflection of
social control measures and not a prescription for neglecting people.
Proponents of the community violence hypothesis argue that police use
violence in response to levels of violence in the community (Fyfe, 1980;
Sherman & Langworthy, 1979). For example, more densely populated areas
have higher rates of crime, requiring more attention from the police (Eng-
lander, 2007). Levels of violence in the community may be reflected in the
size of the police force (Sharp, 2006) or the rate of killings of police offi-
cers by members of the public (Kaminski & Stucky, 2009) or the murder
rate (Jacobs & O’Brien, 1998). Increased violence is likely to increase police
contact with the public and the complexity of policing (Jackson, 1989; B. W.
Smith, 2003) and so may contribute to an increase in the incidence of lethal
force. Community violence is also reflected in the rate of domestic violence
because domestic disturbances are the most volatile situations and complex
circumstances in police work (Chaney & Saltzstein, 1998; Sherman, 1992).
Organizational Factors Affecting Lethal Force
The theory of representative bureaucracy explains how the symbolic rep-
resentation of race in non-elected positions of government may translate
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244 H. L. Ochs
into substantive or active representation through the perception that race is
an indicator of values or experiences that are expected to influence actions
(Meier, 1975; Meier & Smith, 1994). Evidence suggests that racial and ethnic
subpopulations place real value on having members of the group in elected
and non-elected government positions (Haider-Markel et al., 2000). Black
political representation has been shown to increase bureaucratic represen-
tation (Eisinger, 1982; Mladenka, 1989; Sass & Mehay, 2003) and has also
been positively linked to notions of empowerment that subsequently impact
Blacks’ level of trust, efficacy, and participation (Bobo & Gilliam, 1990; Tate,
2003). However, Black officers may be more likely to be viewed as less re-
pressive among Black citizens where there is greater representation of Blacks
on the police force (Frank, Brandl, Cullen, & Stichman, 1996), but these no-
tions are based on what race represents to the public and not the actions of
public officials (Theobald & Haider-Markel, 2009). In fact, Black officers may
act more harshly toward Black citizens (Brown & Frank, 2006; Thompson,
1976). Experimental evidence demonstrates that the myth of Black crimi-
nality has become a systematic aspect of the decision criterion (Greenwald,
Oakes, & Hoffman, 2003). Analyses have uncovered a general perceptual
sensitivity in which people of color with guns are less distinguishable from
people with harmless objects, and a subsequent response bias leads to the
determination that objects held by people of color are more often treated
as guns. Similarly, B. W. Smith (2003) found that minority representation in
police agencies is not significantly related to lethal force. Put simply, racial
and ethnic minorities are more likely to be incorrectly shot by the police
regardless of the race of the officer (Fyfe, 1978, 1982, 2002; Robin, 1963;
Skolnick & Fyfe, 1993).
Police accountability is another organizational component with the po-
tential to affect the use of lethal force by the police. Democratic societies in-
corporate multiple mechanisms of police accountability that can be broadly
grouped into three levels of control: (a) Internal or departmental control
refers to the management and disciplinary systems that are found within
the police departments that generally have the most direct and immediate
impact on the policing agency; (b) state control refers to the legislative, ju-
dicial, and executive agencies of the state responsible for holding the police
accountable; and (c) social control refers to the mechanisms within civil soci-
ety intended to contribute oversight and accountability, including the media,
research institutions, and community organizations (Stone & Ward, 2000).
The leading scholar on police accountability, Samuel Walker (2001, 2005),
identified two factors with the potential to enhance police accountability
beyond the political mechanisms of state control: (a) professionalism and
(b) citizen review. Professional expertise attempts to balance the competing
demands of political control with standards intended to establish legal and
ethical guidelines for conduct (Walker, 2005). It is expected that officers
with more education and training are less reactive and better prepared to
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Politics of Inclusion 245
manage volatile situations with the minimum force necessary in compliance
with agency standards.
Public oversight of police conduct through citizen review represents a
form of social control. Reactive approaches are a deterrence-based method
for addressing police misconduct. Reactive approaches assume that the pre-
dictable reaction of the oversight structure will prevent police misconduct
and are the most common approach to citizen review. However, the reactive
approach does not attempt to identify or resolve the underlying systemic
problems in police organizations (Walker, 2001), and because police orga-
nizations are highly resistant to public “interference” (Human Rights Watch,
1998), it may not have the assumed deterrent effect. Punishment perceived
as unfair or illegitimate can lead to unacknowledged shame and defiant pride
that undermines deterrence and that can increase future crime by individuals
or collectives (Sherman, 1992).
DATA AND MEASUREMENT
This study investigates the contribution of Black political incorporation to
democratic policing. The dependent variable is an event count of justified
homicides by the police taken from the Federal Bureau of Investigation
Supplemental Homicide Reports, 1994 to 2004. Although problems with the
data on lethal and less-than-lethal force have been noted (see Fyfe, 1988),
Supplemental Homicide Report data are the best city-level data available
on official–public violence and have been widely utilized (see Jacobs &
O’Brien, 1998; Liska & Yu, 1992; B. W. Smith, 2003; Sorensen, Marquart,
& Brock, 1993). One of the primary limitations of the data utilized in this
study is that police-caused homicide that is not determined to be justified
is classified as murder and is not distinguished in the data from any other
homicide. Consequently, these data allow for the analysis of the incidence
of lethal force as a violent interaction between the police and the public.
They are a reflection of the level of voluntary compliance with the law, but
they do not provide any information regarding the extent to which police
actions may undermine the rule of law.
The use of lethal force is a rare event (Fyfe, 1978, 2002; Milton, Hallock,
Lardner, & Abrecht, 1977; B. W. Smith, 2003). When it occurs, the use of
lethal force is most likely to occur in the largest cities (B. W. Smith, 2003).
There are 27 cities in the United States with populations greater than 500,000
and 60 cities with populations greater than 300,000. The sample used to test
the link between Black political incorporation and the use of lethal force
represents a random sample drawn from cities with populations of at least
greater than 300,000. The cities randomly selected for this sample make up
92.6% of all cities with populations greater than 500,000 and 50% of all cities
with populations of at least 300,000. Urban police departments have long
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246 H. L. Ochs
been a pressure point for greater democratic responsiveness to minorities,
and the greater concentration of police killings in the largest cities in the
United States (Sorensen et al., 1993) makes this the most relevant point of
analysis.
An analysis of an entire population is rare because it is most often cost
prohibitive, and there is a higher likelihood of ensuring the accuracy and
quality of the data in a sample of the population (Ad`
er, Mellenbergh, & Hand,
2008). Doubling the reliability requires a sample 4 times as large because the
reliability of a sample grows at a rate equivalent to the square root of the
increase in the sample size (McNabb, 2008). Random selection ensures that
every city in the population has an equal chance of being selected, thereby
minimizing bias in case selection (McNabb, 2008). In time-series analysis,
there can be no missing values in the panel, so the data set used in this
analysis represents an attempt to maximize precision affordably. The sample
of 30 cities has approximately a 10% margin of potential sampling error, but
increasing the number of cities in the sample would increase the number
of imputed values necessary to maintain the panel for time-series analysis.
Because of the data collection and reporting procedures of the various data
sources, the imputed values would more than double, the cost for best
available data would be prohibitive, and the larger sample would produce
only a marginal increase in reliability. However, the data in this analysis
are the best available data from multiple sources. These data are strongly
balanced and reflect a reasonable extent of the population of cities where
lethal force is most likely to occur. The sample allows for generalization to
the largest U.S. cities, and the 10 years of observation on each case affords
a good deal of leverage.
Primary Independent Variable
The independent variable of interest is Black political incorporation. The
measure is composed of a dummy variable reflecting the presence of a
Black mayor plus the percentage of the total city council seats available that
are held by Black representatives in each of the cities included in the sample.
The full potential range for this variable is 0–2, and observations approaching
2 reflect higher levels Black political incorporation in city government and
politics. Although research indicates that Black mayors have had consider-
able difficulty altering relations between minorities and the police (Colburn,
2001; Eisinger, 1982), the presence of a Black mayor is associated with more
representative bureaucracy as well as the adoption of citizen controls over
the department (Saltzstein, 1989). In addition, Black representation on city
councils improves the perceptions of the legitimacy of law enforcement of
citizens who are Black and those who are not Black as well (Marschall &
Shah, 2007). Marschall and Ruhil (2007) demonstrated that Black citizens
report higher levels of satisfaction with police services and neighborhood
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Politics of Inclusion 247
conditions that are rooted in tangible improvements when represented by
Blacks in city hall and that these gains in the evaluation of government per-
formance are particularly evident when Black mayors have long tenures in
office. Black political efficacy has been shown to reduce perceptions of in-
justice (Jacobs & Carmichael, 2002) and subsequently Black violence against
the police (Kaminski & Stucky, 2009), but research indicates that there is
likely a trade-off between Black and White perceptions of justice as Black
political incorporation (Frank et al., 1996) and Black bureaucratic represen-
tation (Theobald & Haider-Markel, 2009) increase. In addition, Black city
council representation has been shown to reduce perceptions of the police
as an occupational force (Shihadeh & Flynn, 1996), and such perceptions are
likely to increase voluntary compliance with the law (Tyler, 2004a, 2006).
Because Black mayors and city council members are often credited with
policies that are perceived by the public broadly as improving relations be-
tween the police and the public and are integral in the implementation of
policies and procedures that restrain police use of force (Marschall & Shah,
2007; Saltzstein, 1989), it is expected that higher rates of Black political in-
corporation will contribute to fewer incidents of lethal force.
Control Variables
A number of control variables are included in this study to ensure that the
model is properly specified. An accounting of the measurement, source,
and summary statistics for each variable is provided in Table A-1 in the
Appendix. Several variables test the nature of structural inequalities and
social control. The racial threat hypothesis is tested using a measure of
the Black population in the city as a percentage of the total population.
The percentage of the Black population is squared to model the curvilinear
relationship predicted by Blalock’s (1967) theory. It is expected that very
low populations of racial subgroups may be subject to more oppression
because of opportunity hoarding (Romero & Margolis, 2005), whereas high
populations that are integrated into the social and political processes may
experience backlash (Sharp, 2006). To test the competing differential crime
notion, a measure of the percentage of Black victims of murder relative to
the murders committed by Black perpetrators is used to account for the
differential threat of and to Black citizens. In order for the differential threat
thesis to hold up, the use of lethal force would have to respond to higher rates
of crime perpetration by Blacks and not to higher rates of Black crime victims.
The relationship among race, class, and violence is a matter of debate
among those who contend that poverty isolation and segregation represent
structural inequalities in which the “dangerous classes” are subject to more
aggressive forms of social control as they are more isolated and those who
contend that interventions intended to impact structural inequalities may
result in the kind of neglect whereby there are fewer interactions between
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248 H. L. Ochs
the police and the public in isolated neighborhoods. The benign neglect
claim is tested using the poverty isolation index of the average proportion of
people living in poverty who live in the neighborhood of the average person
living in poverty multiplied by 100 and the measure of Black–White racial
segregation across central city households. Higher levels of isolation and
segregation indicate neighborhoods vulnerable to either aggressive social
control or neglect. However, one should be cautious not to interpret such
vulnerabilities as prescriptions.
Levels of community violence are captured by including measures of
population density, the incidence of domestic violence per 1,000 population,
and the number of officers killed in the line of duty. Some variation in the
literature remains regarding which is the more appropriate variable to use
when controlling for crime levels in the community, so both murder rates and
violent crime are tested. Many studies examining the size of the police force
or the rate of killings of police officers by members of the public control for
the violent crime rate (Kaminski & Stucky, 2009; Sharp, 2006), but the murder
rate is the control variable commonly used when the dependent variable is
a measure of deadly force (see Jacobs & O’Brien, 1998). However, it is
also the case that violent crime and/or murder rates are often shown to be
insignificant (Jacobs & O’Brien, 1998; Sharp, 2006).
The model also controls for the organizational factors affecting police
use of lethal force. The representative bureaucracy hypothesis is tested using
a measure of the percentage of the police force made up of Black sworn
officers. If a more representative bureaucracy does indeed act in a manner
that remediates the oppressive nature of criminal justice toward Blacks in
the United States, as the empowerment perspective implies, it is expected
that the incidence of lethal force will decrease over time in cities with a
higher percentage of Black officers on the force. If the previous findings
that Black officers may act more harshly toward Black citizens are upheld
in the aggregate analysis of police actions, the incidence of lethal force is
expected to increase over time as the percentage of Blacks on the police
force increases.
The race of the police chief is also controlled for in this analysis. In
this case, the race of the police chief may reflect political or bureaucratic
representation. The police chief is responsible for defining and maintain-
ing compliance with the rules of engagement. However, the police chief
is accountable to the city manager (who is subsequently accountable to
the council) in council–manager governments, and the police chief is held
responsible by the mayor in council–mayor systems. Research on the rela-
tionship between the formal legal structure of the city and police violence is
based on the expected impact of reforms designed to separate politics and
administration in city government (Chevigny, 1995; Sampson & Cohen, 1988;
Wilson, 1971). Because the trade-off between responsiveness and representa-
tiveness is a primary feature of the job of the police chief, and the race of the
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Politics of Inclusion 249
police chief may manifest differently under the varying constraints, a measure
that reflects the race of the police chief by the type of city government the
chief is accountable to is utilized in this analysis. Given the lack of empirical
support for the link between city structure and control over police violence
(Jacobs & O’Brien, 1998) and the inconclusive findings regarding represen-
tative bureaucracy (Brown & Frank, 2006), the expected outcome is unclear.
The level of police accountability is also controlled for using a measure
reflecting the citizen review board (CRB) model as outlined by Walker (2005)
and a measure of police professionalism. Walker (2005) noted that police
organizations resist a number of recommendations from the audit process.
If CRBs are broadly a participatory mechanism that facilitates more positive
police–public interactions, the use of lethal force will be reduced by their
persistent effect as a deterrent. If CRBs are likely to be met with increasing
resistance from the police, CRBs may significantly increase the incidence
of lethal force as they increase the degree of oversight by the public. Pro-
fessional expertise attempts to balance the competing demands of political
control with standards intended to establish legal and ethical guidelines for
conduct (Walker, 2005), and the measure of professionalism in this study
attempts to capture the extent to which there is parity between the demands
of police professionalism and the status of the officers as reflected by their
pay. A high degree of parity between expectations and incentives reflects
higher levels of professionalism and is expected to minimize the incidence
of lethal force.
Interactions
A second model includes the potential interaction effects between the race
of the officer and the race of the citizen involved in the incident. A third
model examines the rate of the use of lethal force by Black officers relative
to the percentage of Black officers on the force and the rate of the use of
lethal force by White officers relative to the percentage of White officers on
the force. It is expected that Black officers are unlikely to use lethal force
against White citizens but that the rates of lethal force by Black and White
officers are unlikely to be different across the police force.
ESTIMATION AND RESULTS
The data utilized in this study consist of panel data from 1994 to 2004 for
30 cities selected at random from the 60 largest U.S. cities (populations
>300,000). Panel data allow for the control of factors that cannot be easily
observed or measured, like cultural variation or different managerial prac-
tices. The primary limitations of panel data are the cost and time commitment
required for data collection. However, panel data allow for the estimation
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250 H. L. Ochs
of a greater range of conditional probabilities. It is also important to note
that this analysis examines the incidence of the use of lethal force in the
aggregate and not the individual choices officers make in the use of lethal
force. Considering that a greater concentration of police killings occur in the
largest cities (see B. W. Smith, 2003) and that police use of lethal force is
a rare event (Fyfe, 1978, 2002; Milton et al., 1977; B. W. Smith, 2003), an
analysis of longitudinal data for the largest cities available is necessary and
sufficient for adequate inference.
Because the dependent variable is an event count for a relatively rare
occurrence, the distribution is skewed. Given these conditions, ordinary least
squares regression is unsuitable and can result in biased estimates (Osgood,
2000). Poisson regression models are better suited for the type of data utilized
(Land, McCall, & Nagin, 1996; Osgood, 2000). Preliminary analyses of good-
ness of fit using the standard Poisson regression technique indicate that the
standard Poisson method is inappropriate for modeling the data because the
estimates are consistent but inefficient (Gourieroux, Monfort, & Trongnon,
1984; Greene, 2003). Because of the problems of overdispersion with the
basic Poisson regression, a random-effects negative binomial regression for
panel data is estimated to avoid misleading significance tests resulting from
underestimation of the standard errors (Baltagi, 2008; Osgood, 2000).
Problems of multicollinearity are common to structural-level data, so
it is necessary to check for collinearity (Baltagi, 2008; Beck & Katz, 1995).
Calculation of the variance inflation factors reveals no problematically high
levels of multicollinearity. A Cook-Weisberg test for heteroscedasticity reveals
a chi-square of 111.81 for the first model of the effect of Black city leadership
on the incidence of lethal force over time; a chi-square of 91.06 for the second
model, which accounts for the interaction between the race of the officer
and the race of citizen; and a chi-square of 206.76 for the third model, which
accounts for the rates of lethal force by Black and White officers in proportion
to the makeup of the force. Significance reaches the .001 level in each case.
These tests indicate that correction for heteroscedasticity is required for each
of the three models of the incidence of lethal force over time.
Panel data models estimate fixed- or random-effects models using
dummy variables. Fixed effects can be thought of as treatment levels. A
fixed-effects model is conceptually appropriate when all possible levels of
a treatment have been included or when the results are not intended to be
generalized beyond the cities selected. Because the panel utilized in this
study consists of data from 30 cities from a larger population of cities, the
variable is considered conceptually a random effect. In random-effects es-
timation, the dummies are considered a constant aspect of the error term,
and the error variances vary across group and time (Greene, 2003). Random
effects are tested using the Lagrange multiplier test (Breusch & Pagan, 1980).
The Lagrange multiplier test for each of the models is significant at the .001
level, indicating that the random-effects model is appropriate.
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Politics of Inclusion 251
The estimates from each of the models listed in Table 1 indicate that
Black political incorporation is significant at the .01 level in each of the three
models tested. The incident rate ratios listed in the table for each model show
the odds of the incidence of lethal force going up or down in a given year
as predicted by the models, and the positive or negative sign associated with
the zvalue indicates the direction of the relationship. The direction of the
relationship reveals whether the odds are predicted to go up or down with a
change in that independent variable. A negative zvalue indicates an inverse
relationship between the independent variable and the dependent variable.
The results show that higher levels of Black political incorporation in city
government reduce the incidence of deadly force over time. Black political
incorporation in cities in which all of the elected seats in city government are
held by Black representatives has a marginal impact that decreases the likely
incident rate by 1.398 over time. By contrast, the marginal impact of having
no Black elected officials in city government increases the likely incident
rate by 0.607 over time.
The first model reveals that as the percentage of Black sworn officers
on the force increases, the incidence of lethal force is likely to increase over
time. This finding is consistent with existing evidence that Black officers
may treat Black citizens more harshly (see Brown & Frank, 2006; Thompson,
1976). The second model reveals that Black officers are not significantly likely
to use lethal force on White citizens but are significantly likely to use lethal
force against Black citizens. When the rate at which officers use lethal force
is understood in relation to the makeup of the force (Model 3), the results
suggest that Black officers appear to be nearly as likely as White officers
to use lethal force against Black citizens. This is not especially surprising,
considering that into the 1960s Black police officers in the United States were
not allowed to even arrest Whites (Dulaney, 1996). There is some evidence
that this history continues to have an effect on police practice, although
the mechanism remains unclear (National Research Council, 2004). Because
citizen attitudes and perceptions of the legitimacy of the police are most
likely affected by the race of the officer rather than the action of the officer
(Theobald & Haider-Markel, 2009), interpreting how this finding may be
understood in relation to democratic policing is difficult. Aggregate analysis
does not allow for individual-level inferences about the ways in which the
descriptive, symbolic, or active representation of Black officers on the force
may or may not affect the perceptions of the legitimacy of police actions.
There is nothing in the data that specifies whether Black officers may or
may not be relatively more likely to be assigned patrol districts that have
higher Black populations, and there is no evidence regarding how the use
of lethal force is diffused across the force. However, these findings do seem
to imply that the contention that Black descriptive representation fosters
empowerment (see Banducci et al., 2004; Bobo & Gilliam, 1990) may be
premature.
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TABLE 1 Random-Effects Negative Binomial Regression: Incidence of Lethal Force Over Time (1994–2004)
Model 1 Model 2 Model 3
Independent Variable IRR (z)SE IRR (z)SE IRR (z)SE
Black political incorporation 0.6696 0.51412 0.7125 0.38713 0.7246 0.37529
(–1.30)∗∗ (–1.84)∗∗ (–1.93)∗∗
Black sworn officers 2.4492 4.07011 1.8365 2.66000
(0.60)(0.69)
(Black police chief by city structure)20.9907 0.02852 0.9937 0.01967 0.9939 0.02248
(–34.74) (–50.52) (–44.21)
Black population20.4173 1.41925 0.4445 0.74863 0.4356 0.93371
(–0.29)∗∗ (–0.59)∗∗ (–0.47)∗∗
Poverty isolation 0.9514 0.26965 0.9830 0.15014 0.9707 0.16433
(–3.53)(–6.55) (–5.91)
Racial segregation 0.9940 0.16150 1.0015 0.10324 1.0080 0.10105
(–6.16) (9.70) (9.98)
Relative threat ratio 1.1240 0.41582 1.1329 0.32765 1.1984 0.30198
(2.70)∗∗ (3.46)∗∗ (3.97)∗∗
Murder rate 1.0109 0.02483
(40.71)
Violent crime rate 1.0000 0.00005 1.0000 0.00005
(20000)∗∗∗ (20000)∗∗∗
Professionalism 5.1400 625.96860 94601.1439 542.71450 56522589 546.40850
(0.01) (174.31) (103443)
Citizen review board 1.0921 0.23000 1.1491 0.13348 1.1198 0.16018
(4.75) (8.61)∗∗ (6.99)
(Continued on next page)
252
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TABLE 1 Random-Effects Negative Binomial Regression: Incidence of Lethal Force Over Time (1994–2004) (Continued)
Model 1 Model 2 Model 3
Independent Variable IRR (z)SE IRR (z)SE IRR (z)SE
Domestic violence 0.9997 0.00158 0.9995 0.00165 0.9992 0.00137
(–632.72) (–605.76) (–729.34)
Population density 1.0000 0.00005 1.0000 0.01904 1.0000 0.02102
(20000) (52.52) (47.57)
Officers killed on duty 0.9920 0.48092 1.0240 0.39859 1.0139 0.39225
(–2.06) (2.57) (2.58)
Black officer—Black citizen 1.0375 0.28301
(3.67)
Black officer—White citizen 1.0346 0.82252
(1.26)
White officer—White citizen 1.0963 0.10818
(10.13)∗∗∗
White officer—Black citizen 1.1300 0.16443
(6.87)∗∗∗
Black officer lethal force rate 1.0114 0.05356
(18.88)∗∗∗
White officer lethal force rate 1.0184 0.05155
(19.76)∗∗∗
N330 330 330
Wald χ2(13) 47.97∗∗∗
Wald χ2(17) 195.76∗∗∗
Wald χ2(14) 102.75∗∗∗
Log likelihood –770.5934 –721.7718 —752.4141
Note. Standard errors are heteroscedastic panel-corrected standard errors. Analysis was performed using STATA Version 10. Positive and negative signs indicate the
direction of the relationship, such that a negative sign (–) indicates a likely decrease in the incident rate ratio (IRR).
p.05, ∗∗ p.01, ∗∗∗ p.001.
253
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254 H. L. Ochs
This study also lends support to the racial threat hypothesis. The three
models yield significant estimates regarding the curvilinear effect that the
Black population in the city has on the lethal force incident rate over time.
The analysis reveals that cities in which the Black population is very low
or very high are likely to have a significantly higher incidence of lethal
force. In addition, poverty isolation is weakly significant in the first model.
The results show that the incidence of lethal force decreases as people
living in poverty are more isolated. These findings suggest that policies of
benign neglect may result in fewer interactions between the police and the
highly isolated population of people living in poverty, which may result in
a reduced incidence of lethal force. However, there is nothing in the data
that would indicate where the incidence of lethal force is likely to occur in
the city. The incidence may be lower but concentrated in the highly isolated
neighborhoods.
The three models also reveal that the incidence of lethal force is likely
to increase significantly over time in cities where Black citizens are more at
risk of being victims of murder. Furthermore, the models suggest that the
Black murder rate does not affect the likelihood of police use of lethal force.
The Black murder rate was also tested in place of the relative threat ratio
variable in each of the models with the violent crime rate in the place of the
murder rate, and the Black murder rate did not near statistical significance
in any test. This analysis indicates that there is no reason to believe that
police use of lethal force is in response to higher rates of perpetration of
crime by Black citizens. Considering that the number of officers killed in the
line of duty does not have a significant effect on the use of lethal force and
that circumstances in which Black citizens are more likely to be victims of
crime than perpetrators of crime result in more incidents of deadly force,
these findings constitute important evidence against the differential threat
hypothesis. This analysis demonstrates that it is not the case that the use
of lethal force is a function of differences in the perpetration of crime. The
differential threat hypothesis is an example of what Katheryn Russell-Brown
(2004) referred to as part of the coded language that serves to justifiably link
crime to race, particularly Blackness. The evidence presented here shows
that this link is not justified.
As expected, higher murder rates significantly increase the incidence of
lethal force over time. When the violent crime rate is used in the place of the
murder rate, it is evident that higher rates of violent crime increase the inci-
dence of lethal force. Both Models 2 and 3 suggest that the violent crime rate
increases the incidence of lethal force, reaching significance at the .001 level.
CRBs do not have a significant effect on the use of lethal force in the first
model. However, the second and third models reveal that cities utilizing CRB
models that are more proactive have a significantly higher incidence of lethal
force over time. This may be a reflection of how the data on justified homi-
cide are collected. It may be the case that cities with more proactive CRBs are
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Politics of Inclusion 255
likely to experience higher incidence rates because the CRB may function
to legitimate or justify the actions of the police, which is still consistent with
Walker’s (2005) thesis. Citizens may perceive police actions as more legiti-
mate when they understand the circumstances and the level of complexity in
policing and have a forum in which to interact positively with the police, re-
sulting in more positive interactions regardless of the impact on outcomes in
the aggregate. Alternatively, more proactive CRBs may be perceived as more
intrusive and meet with considerable resistance. If the appeals and audit
processes of public oversight are resisted by policing agencies, their recom-
mendations might be disregarded by the command or even undermined by
internal affairs, who might perceive CRBs as competition. This study only
allows for speculation as to these findings. A comprehensive understanding
of this issue would require an analysis of interorganizational interactions
and a critical look at how CRB recommendations are incorporated into the
process.
DISCUSSION
This study of the impact of Black city leadership on interactions between
the police and the public confirms that the incorporation of Black citizens in
government and politics contributes to legitimate, lawful policing that has the
potential for widespread gains. The existing literature overlooks the extent
to which Black elected officials impact police actions. This study addresses
a gap in the literature by assessing the direct effect of Black elected officials
on the aggregate level of lethal force. In this test case, the results show that
over time Black political incorporation significantly reduces the use of deadly
force by the police.
Representation gains by Black elected officials are not a zero-sum game.
The reduction in the incidence of lethal force achieved by Black political in-
corporation is in the interest of Black citizens to the extent that the reductions
may decrease the relative risk of exposure to lethal force, but it is also the
case that the public broadly benefits from the potential reduction in enforce-
ment costs. Increasing penalties to enforce the law increases costs and has a
diminishing return (Tyler & Huo, 2002; Tyler & Darley, 2000). Furthermore,
because legitimacy is essential for voluntary compliance (Tyler, 1990), the in-
cidence of the use of force may also reflect to some extent defiance that can
increase enforcement costs and undermine order, meaning that each time
lethal force is used to “assert authority and gain deference” (Lipsky, 1980,
p. 32), the authority of the law is in question. The more force is applied to
maintain peace, the more it costs to maintain, and the less peace is sustained.
A considerable amount of scandal that can undermine legitimacy is of-
ten generated from the use of lethal force. Departments spend a substantial
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256 H. L. Ochs
amount of time and resources dealing with situations in which lethal force
is used. In addition, officers often experience trauma that necessitates coun-
seling services to deal with situations in which they have used lethal force
(Klinger, 2004). They may have their careers interrupted, and their reputa-
tions can be damaged by such incidents. Reducing the incidence of lethal
force also means that officers will not have to experience this form of vio-
lence either.
Stephen Mastrofski (2004) contended that police culture and the relevant
features of the policy and social environment in which policing organizations
operate need to be accounted for in order to understand the mechanisms by
which street-level discretion is controlled. In addition, shooting policies are
believed to affect how individual officers use their firearms (Klinger, 2004),
and although most policing agencies have deadly force policies that are in
line with the best practices outlined by the profession and constrained by
state statute and case law, the ways in which those policies may be put into
practice in a manner that reduces violence remains unclear. Currently, there
is no rigorous evidence to support the claim that police culture is relevant to
the use of lethal force (National Research Council, 2004). However, future
research may examine the specific mechanisms by which Black elected offi-
cials succeed in reducing the incidence of lethal force by exploring variations
in managerial strategies, administrative practices, and/or redirecting of the
organizational culture.
A full discussion of the policy implications of these findings is beyond
the scope of this study. However, there are some important policy and practi-
cal implications. In particular, the emphasis that Black elected officials place
on maintaining the peace appears to reduce the incidence of police actions
that have the potential to threaten the peace. Over time, the aggressive pur-
suit of order maintenance increases costs, produces diminishing returns, and
undermines legitimacy. The recognition and attention Black elected officials
give to mitigate systematic biases in the criminal justice system tend to op-
timize the delicate equilibrium between credible force and legitimacy in the
rule of law. Unpacking the paradox of forced peace requires critical reflection
regarding the pervasive myths of Black criminality that serve to perpetuate
violence. This study shows that valuable gains can be made when elected
officials recognize and give suitable attention to fact that criminal justice
policies based on faulty notions about criminality pose considerable risk to
Black citizens but also pose a threat to democratic policing. The incidence
of lethal force is responsive to the racial subpopulation rather than differen-
tial crime, and Black citizens who have a higher risk of crime victimization
than perpetration might also be under increased threat from the police as
well. Consequently, addressing disparities in criminal justice is likely to pro-
duce greater gains in overall levels of violence than attempts to control the
mythical problem of Black criminality.
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Politics of Inclusion 257
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Politics of Inclusion 263
APPENDIX
TABLE A-1 Variable List
Variable Source Range MSD
Lethal force Number of justifiedahomicides coded as
“felon” killed by the police based on the
Supplementary Homicide Reports stored
at the National Consortium on Violence
Research (NCOVR).
0–40 5.31 6.46
Relative risk
ratio
Reflects the Black victims of lethal force in
proportion to the Black population
relative to the White victims of lethal
force in proportion to the White
population.
0–110.7 5.85 15.42
Black mayor Variable coded 1 for the presence of a
Black mayor and 0 for a mayor who is
not Black. The data are based on the
historical record and cross-checked with
records from the National Conference of
Black Mayors.
0–1 0.39 0.49
Black repre-
sentation on
city council
Percentage of the city council members
who are Black. Data purchased from the
Joint Center for Political and Economic
Studies. Funding provided by Lehigh
University Department of Political
Science faculty research development.
0–0.93 0.32 0.25
Black political
incorpora-
tion
Black mayor variable +Black
representation on city council variable.
The full potential range of this variable
is 0–2. Observations approaching 2
reflect more Black political
incorporation in city politics.
0–1.93 0.70 0.66
Control variables
Black sworn
officers
The percentage of the police force made
up of Black sworn officers. Data on the
race of sworn officers are taken from
the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
2–69% 0.24 0.10
(Black police
chief by city
structure)2
Variable coded 1 for the presence of a
Black police chief and 0 for a police
chief who is not Black. The data are
based on the historical record provided
by the police organization and/or city
cross-checked with newspaper archives.
0–20.09 8.35 8.35
Black
population2
Black population in the city as a
percentage of the total population. Data
are from the Lewis Mumford Center for
Comparative Urban and Regional
Research, University at Albany, State
University of New York. The percentage
of the Black population is squared to
model the curvilinear relationship.
1–3.46 1.30 0.31
(Continued on next page)
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264 H. L. Ochs
TABLE A-1 Variable List (Continued)
Poverty
isolation
The isolation index is a measure of the
average proportion of poor people
who live in the neighborhood of the
average poor person multiplied by
100. Source: Dr. Russell Lopez,
Boston University School of Public
Health, Department of Environmental
Health, Analysis of Census Data.
11.4– 31.2 20.95 1.96
Racial
segregation
Measure of Black–White segregation
across central city households
ranging from 0 to 100, with higher
values reflecting higher levels of
segregation. Data are from the
Metropolitan Racial and Ethnic
Change (Census 2000) American
Communities Project.
43.7–85 64.75 3.34
Citizen review
board
Reflects the type of citizen review
board based on Samuel Walker’s
(2005) classifications (0 reflects no
active review board) from the
National Association of Civilian
Oversight of Law Enforcement.
0–4 1.20 1.56
Domestic
violence
Measure of within-family violence
based on incidents of familial
homicide per 1,000 population. FBI
Uniform Crime Reports:
Supplementary Homicide Reports
(www.ncovr.org).
0–330 104.20 97.29
Population
density
Census data on the
population/geographical area.
1,278–
150,728
26,376.35 30,912.72
Murder rate Homicides per 100,000 population.
Cities not available in all years
through census are obtained through
NCOVR data cubes.
1.9–85.8 19.55 15.14
Violent crime
rate
Violent crime per 100,000 population.
Cities not available in all years
through census are obtained through
NCOVR data cubes. Any remaining
missing values are imputed using
STATA Version 10.
371–
136,522
10,289.18 17,463.42
Officers killed
on duty
Number of officers killed in the line of
duty (deaths classified as accidents or
natural causes not included) from the
Officer Down Memorial Page, Inc.
0–23 0.49 1.47
Relative threat
ratio
Reflects the percentage of Black victims
of murder relative to the murders
committed by Black perpetrators to
account for the differential threat of
and to Black citizens. Obtained
through NCOVR data cubes.
0–8.74 1.40 0.76
(Continued on next page)
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Politics of Inclusion 265
TABLE A-1 Variable List (Continued)
Variable Source Range MSD
Professionalism Bureau of Justice Statistics data on the
amount of education required for law
enforcement officials (0 =high
school education, 1 =any amount of
college education) plus the number
of hours of training required. The
education and training requirements
are divided by the average salary to
reflect the professional pay parity.
0.00003–
0.003
0.001 0.0005
City structure Categorical variable indicating the
system of organization for city
administration (0 =council–manager,
1=council–mayor). Data are
obtained through official documents
of the city government.
0–1 0.80 0.40
Black officer
lethal force
rate
Reflects the rate of the use of lethal
force by Black officers relative to the
percentage of Black officers on the
force. From the Bureau of Justice
Statistics Law Enforcement
Management and Administrative
Statistics (LEMAS).
0–173.55 4.02 11.58
White officer
lethal force
rate
Reflects the rate of the use of lethal
force by White officers relative to the
percentage of White officers on the
force. From the Bureau of Justice
Statistics LEMAS.
0–129.87 6.40 11.35
Note. Thirty cities were randomly selected from a total of 60 cities with a population greater than 300,000
in all years (1994–2004).
aPolice-caused homicide that is not determined to be “justified” is classified as murder and cannot be
distinguished from any other homicide.
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... While several studies have demonstrated a positive association between increased shares of Black officers and decreased use of force by police (Ba et al. 2021;Headley 2021;Willits and Nowacki 2014), some studies found no significant association (Donahue III and Levitt 2001;Sharp 2014). In addition, some studies have found that increased racial representation is in fact positively associated with harsher law enforcement toward Black residents (Ochs 2011;Wilkins and Williams 2008). Given these mixed previous findings, more empirical evidence is necessary to understand the circumstances in which increased racial representation in the police force promotes fair law enforcement outcomes toward racial minority residents. ...
... Despite the expected positive influence of increased shares of minority officers, however, empirical evidence on its influence has been inconclusive (Smith and Holmes 2014;Nicholson-Crotty, Nicholson-Crotty and Fernandez 2017;Donahue III and Levitt 2001;Ochs 2011;Sharp 2014;Wilkins and Williams 2008). Contrary to what the theory would predict, some studies even found that increased racial representation may increase the disparity in law enforcement outcomes toward minority residents. ...
... Contrary to what the theory would predict, some studies even found that increased racial representation may increase the disparity in law enforcement outcomes toward minority residents. For example, Ochs (2011) showed that, as the percentage of Black officers increases within the police force, the incidence of police-involved deaths of Black residents increases. Similarly, Wilkins and Williams (2008) showed that an increased proportion of Black officers is positively associated with a racial disparity in vehicle stops. ...
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Based on representative bureaucracy theory, the current study investigates whether increasing Black representation in police forces is negatively associated with racial discrimination in law enforcement. This study additionally investigates how associations may differ according to the organizational or environmental contexts of the forces. Results show that an increased share of Black officers is associated with decreased police-involved deaths of Black residents, but is not significantly associated with a change in order maintenance arrests of Black suspects. In addition, the negative association between Black representation and police-involved deaths of Black residents disappears when the percent of Black officers surpasses about 15 percent, especially in organizations where White officers comprise a larger share. These findings support the potential negative role of organizational socialization on the effectiveness of increasing the share of Black officers in policing, implying that additional long-term efforts to change organizational culture are needed to realize the benefits of enhancing Black representation.
... There is some conflicting evidence on the effect of racial composition and diversity of the police force on police violence. Smith (2003) finds no effect of the racial composition of a police force and its incidence of police killings of felons, while Ochs (2011) shows that rates of lethal force are higher when the proportion of black officers in a department increases. In research by Legewie and Fagan (2016), a more diverse police force reduces the rates at which blacks are killed by police officers. ...
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... The presence of officers of color leads to more favorable outcomes for drivers of color (less likely to be stopped and searched) (Close & Mason, 2006Gilliard-Matthews, Kowalski, & Lundman, 2008). Alternative studies looked at the aggregate impacts of increased numbers of officers of color on police departments, and across agencies and communities; however, the findings are mixed (Hong, 2017a;Ochs, 2011;Wilkins & Williams, 2008). There fails to be any consistent record of a significant impact, let alone consistent findings of a positive or negative relationship. ...
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... One study showed that an increase in the number of black officers increased the rate of lethal police violence to black citizens, and that black officers were less likely to use lethal force against whites. 25 The Nicholson et al. article 26 is worth highlighting because it introduces the concept of critical mass to the representative bureaucracy and use of force literature. Critical mass represents a demographic tipping point in which minority officers have enough cultural and managerial sway so that they can create the agency needed for active representation. ...
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... In some cases, studies have confirmed the finding that hiring more minority officers does not correlate with a reduction in the killing of citizens (see, e.g., Holmes and Smith 2008 ;Smith and Holmes 2014 ). Alternatively, some work has shown that the use of lethal force increases with the proportion of black officers (Ochs 2011 ). Finally, other studies have found that white officers are more likely to use deadly force than their black or Hispanic counterparts (see, e.g., McElvain and Kposowa 2008 ). ...
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Calls for more representative police forces, made regularly over the past four decades, rest in part on the assumption that hiring minority officers will help departments overcome adverse selection and moral hazard problems that lead to overly aggressive and discriminatory policing. However, the empirical evidence regarding the relationship between force representativeness and improved policing outcomes has been remarkably mixed. This article explores the effectiveness of another method that departments can use to overcome those same problems, as well as the degree to which those methods may interact with the demographic composition of police departments. Results from a difference-in-differences analysis of more than 500 police departments in 2002 and 2008 suggest that screening recruits for conflict management skills reduces racial disproportion in discretionary arrests, particularly in departments that are more representative of the communities they serve. The analyses also suggest that conflict management screening, when combined with recruit screening for sensitivity to diverse cultures, reduces the lethal use of force by police.
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During the height of the civil rights movement, Blacks were among the most liberal Americans. Since the 1970s, however, increasing representation in national, state, and local government has brought about a more centrist outlook among Black political leaders. Focusing on the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), Katherine Tate studies the ways in which the nation's most prominent group of Black legislators has developed politically. Organized in 1971, the CBC set out to increase the influence of Black legislators. Indeed, over the past four decades, they have made progress toward the goal of becoming recognized players within Congress. And yet, Tate argues, their incorporation is transforming their policy preferences. Since the Clinton Administration, CBC members—the majority of whom are Democrats—have been less willing to oppose openly congressional party leaders and both Republican and Democratic presidents. Tate documents this transformation with a statistical analysis of Black roll-call votes, using the important Poole-Rosenthal scores from 1977 to 2010. While growing partisanship has affected Congress as a whole, not just minority caucuses, Tate warns that incorporation may mute the independent voice of Black political leaders.