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Why do attitudes towards the police differ from county to county.

According to Asymmetry in the Impact of Encounters with Police, there are several factors of individuals in poorer neighborhoods that can be attributed to the negative attitudes: (1) illegal drugs use is often done in public view, thereby creating the need for aggressive policing (2) police are more prone to abuse of power in poor and minority neighborhoods (Skogan 2007, 103), and (3) people remember a negative contact over a positive one, and will only comment on the negative (Skogan, 2007, 107). Research shows that legitimacy yields cooperation of individuals in a community. Therefore, I hypothesize that, if police are polite, helpful, fair, attentive, and explain what is going on, there will be an increase in positive experiences among individuals throughout the communities. (Tyler & Fagan, 2008). However, notably negative events, such as the Rodney King case, doubled criticisms unevenly among different groups and are counterproductive to improving the attitudes of citizens. Attitudes in wealthier neighborhoods show that college educated individuals were most affected by incidents involving police brutality (Jesilow & Meyer, 2001). Following the King beating, the public: (1) expressed concern about administrative issues and

blamed the situation with King as a direct association with increased crime and disorder (2) believed that there were not enough police and felt that they were overworked, and (3) felt that officers were prejudice, had a negative attitude, and failed to communicate with the citizens they encountered on duty (Jesilow & Meyer, 2001). Negativity bias is therefore consistent with the attitudes amongst the population effecting people’s general views of the police. Research conducted over the past thirteen years report that negative contact will have a powerful impact on how individuals interpret their experiences and actually form negative bias (Skogan, 2007).

In order to remold attitudes, we must approach areas subjected to police brutality by earning the respect and trust of citizens. Officers reacting in “herd like behavior”, such as the King beating must be charged disciplined. The department should then replace those terminated with educated officers who truly understand cultural diversity. In time, positive changes will occur, attitudes and more cooperation of our citizens will evolve into a cohesive community environment

Jesilow, P. & Meyer J. (2001), “The Effect of Police Misconduct on Public Attitudes: A

Quasi-Experiment,” Journal of Rime and Justice, Vol. 24, (2001): 109-121.

Skogan, Wesley (2007), “Asymmetry in the Impact of Encounters with Police,”

Policing & Society, Vol. 16 No. 2, (June 2006) 99-126.

Tyler T. & Fagan J. (2008), “Legitimacy and Cooperation: Why Do People Help the

Police Fight Crime in Their Communities? Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law,

Vol. 6, 231-275.