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date: 22 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Since the birth of criminal justice as a field of study in the 1960s, identifying and explaining racial disparities has been a consistent focus of research. While there is agreement that racial and ethnic disparities exist at every stage in the criminal justice system, the reasons or explanations for these disparities remain a subject for debate. This is especially true in the policing literature. Regardless of the discretionary police decision examined, racial and ethnic disparities exist; however, consensus as to why these disparities exist or how they can be reduced is lacking. Regarding citizens’ perceptions, research consistently indicates that black citizens have the most negative perceptions of police. Regardless of the empirical evidence regarding racial and ethnic disparities, if citizens believe police bias exists, police legitimacy is compromised.

Keywords: police, racial disparities, police bias, citizen perceptions, policing

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