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Effect of Prior Police Contact on Victimization Reporting Results From the Police-Public Contact and National Crime Victimization Surveys

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2018
55 pages
This study examined the association between past-year face-to-face contact with the police and subsequent victimization reporting, as well as whether this relationship depended on the type of encounter (citizen-initiated contacts, routine vehicle stops, invasive encounters associated with being a suspect), its perceived justness, or victim characteristics.
Among victims who did not notify the police, the reasons behind this decision were assessed to understand the mechanisms through which police encounters are related to reporting. This research was the first to use longitudinal data that linked the 2002, 2008, and 2011 Police Public Contact Surveys to the 2002-2014 National Crime Victimization Surveys. Multivariate logistic regression was used to examine the effect of prior contact on police notification among victims of personal (N = 1,073) and household (N = 11,433) crimes. The study found that prior contact with the police had no main effect on the reporting of personal crimes; however, the negative effects of police-initiated and unjust contact were amplified for the poor and African-Americans. The reporting of household crimes varied based on prior police experiences and whether they were viewed as just. Personal crime victims with invasive contact were more likely than other contact groups to attribute non-reporting to fear of reprisal. The study concluded that using national data tells a complex story about how race/ethnicity, poverty, and recent experiences with the police interact to shape victims' behavior. The intricacies of these findings suggest that efforts to increase victim crime reporting may need to be multifaceted and address victims' concerns about safety and justness. (Publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: June 1, 2018