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Police-Citizen Encounters and Field Citations: Do Encounter Characteristics Influence Ticketing?

NCJ Number
Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management Volume: 28 Issue: 3 Dated: 2005 Pages: 435-454
Date Published
20 pages

This study conducted an empirical analysis of the factors that influence police in their issuing of field citations (tickets) to citizens for nontraffic and traffic violations.


The study involved systematic social observations of police-citizen encounters in Cincinnati, OH, from April 1997 to April 1998. Multiple logistic regression models were used to identify the effects of various legal and extralegal variables on the dependant variable (receipt of a citation) compared to officer actions that involved doing nothing or arresting a citizen. Compared to nontraffic violations, officers were more likely to issue citations and refrain from formal action or making an arrest in traffic violations. White officers were more likely than Black officers to make full-custody arrests in traffic violations rather than issue a citation; and Black suspects were significantly more likely than White suspects to be arrested rather than cited. The race of the officer or the suspect had no significant effect in any of the other models estimated. When officers believed they had probable cause to make an arrest, suspects were approximately 12 times more likely to be arrested rather than cited. Intoxicated suspects were five times more likely to be arrested than sober suspects, and officers were more likely to arrest suspects with prior criminal records. Juveniles were 4.4 times more likely than adults to be arrested than cited. Compared to female suspects, male suspects were more likely to be arrested than cited. A study limitation was data collection for only one police agency in one jurisdiction. 4 tables, 11 notes, and 63 references

Date Published: January 1, 2005