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Fear, victimization, and community characteristics on citizen satisfaction with the police


Published online on


Policing: An International Journal, Ahead of Print.
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to explore the relationship between fear of victimization, actual victimization, and community-level characteristics on citizen satisfaction with police. This study attempts to clarify important factors in how citizens view the police, while accounting for contextual, neighborhood-level variables. Design/methodology/approach This study utilized a representative victimization survey conducted in Saginaw, MI in 2015. Utilizing a sample of 824 individuals, an ordinary least-squares model was fit in order to determine the effects of reported victimization, fear of victimization, and neighborhood characteristics on satisfaction with police. The authors utilized interaction terms to model varying effects between the East and West sides of the city. Findings The study found that fear of victimization was related to lower satisfaction with police, while actual victimization had an inconsistent effect when community satisfaction and collective efficacy were accounted for. The authors found the effect was present only in the more affluent western portion of the city. Furthermore, the authors found that non-white residents reported much lower satisfaction with police than white residents. Research limitations/implications The authors were unable to disaggregate respondents to smaller geographical units than an East\West measure, which limits the authors’ ability to discuss small-scale contexts at the block, or block-group level. Practical implications This study suggests that concerted efforts to reduce fear of crime may increase satisfaction with police, but this effect may be based on neighborhood context. Improving collective efficacy and community satisfaction may provide additional ways to improve citizen satisfaction with police. Originality/value This paper adds to the literature examining the relationship between victimization, fear of crime, and satisfaction with police.