Methods: Data were used from the 2017 Survey of Police-Public Encounters (SPPE II), which is a cross-sectional, demographically representative survey of adults residing in Baltimore and New York City (N = 1,000). Lifetime police violence exposure was assessed using the Police Practices Inventory (PPI), which includes 6 dichotomous indicators assessing physical, sexual, and psychological victimization, and neglect (i.e. did not respond when called). Measures of law enforcement perceptions included perceived police legitimacy/trust (7 items), effectiveness (5 items), responsiveness (3 items), and satisfaction (3 items). Higher mean scores on each measure indicate higher levels of police legitimacy/trust, effectiveness, responsiveness, and satisfaction. T-tests were used to assess differences in mean scores on law enforcement perception measures between individuals exposed and not exposed to each form of police violence. Binary logistic regressions were used to model associations between law enforcement perceptions and any police violence exposure, including interaction effects by age, income, education, race/ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation.
Findings: Results suggest significant differences in mean scores on all measures of law enforcement perceptions among individuals who reported experiences of police victimization and neglect compared to those without such experiences. Specifically, individuals with exposure to physical, sexual, and psychological police victimization and neglect reported significantly lower levels of police legitimacy/trust, effectiveness, responsiveness, and satisfaction. Multivariate results suggest that perceptions of police legitimacy/trust, effectiveness, responsiveness, and satisfaction were all significantly associated with personal accounts of police violence exposure, controlling for other variables. Higher levels of police legitimacy/trust, effectiveness, responsiveness, and satisfaction were all associated with decreased odds of police violence exposure. Age, sexual orientation, and gender did not significantly moderate the relationship between police perceptions and police violence, with the exception of race/ethnicity in some models. Specifically, the relationship between police violence exposure and satisfaction with policing was stronger among Black/African American participants than non-Black/African American participants, although this did not hold for legitimacy/trust, effectiveness, or responsiveness.
Conclusion: Findings shed light on the implications negative police encounters have on victims of police violence and perceptions of law enforcement. The results suggest that an erosion of community police relations is further exacerbated when exposure to police violence occurs. Findings also demonstrate ways in which the actions of law enforcement may impede opportunities for community-police collaboration. Echoing other studies, these results show the disproportionate impact negative police encounters have on satisfaction with policing, particularly for Black/African American individuals. Ultimately, this study adds to the argument that violent policing most adversely effects perceptions of the police among Black/African individuals.