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Contacts with the Police: Patterns and Meanings in a Multicultural Realm

NCJ Number
Police & Society Issue: 7 Dated: April 2003 Pages: 135-166
Date Published
April 2003
32 pages
This article explores issues surrounding the meaning of community policing in multicultural communities.
Through an examination of how residents made police contact in two different urban neighborhoods, the author asserts that contacting the police is a social process that varies based on sociocultural circumstances. In order to examine this social process, the author engaged in a 3 year, ethnographic study of two urban neighborhoods in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles. One neighborhood was described as socially differentiated, while the other neighborhood was less socially differentiated. Interviews with residents and participant observations focused on the residents’ definitions of and responses to crime and disorder and also focused on residents’ perceptions of their local police. The article discusses the characteristics of each neighborhood and then offers an analysis of the differences in the way the residents of the two neighborhoods made contact with police. The author asserts that community policing strategies should be sensitive to the different social structures and relations that are found in a multicultural society in order to more effectively and cooperatively police these areas. Notes, references

Date Published: April 1, 2003