Police endorsement of color-blind racial beliefs and propensity to interact with youth of color

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Abstract

The beliefs of police, as the point of first contact with the justice system, may help to explain disproportionate minority contact between police and young people. Color-blind racial beliefs, a form of implicit racism in which racial differences are denied, are more strongly endorsed by police than by laypeople. Using a 2 (youth race) × 3 (offense severity) experimental design, 339 officers participated in an online study examining the influence of youth race, offense severity, and officers' color-blind racial beliefs on officers' reported likelihood of interacting with young people. Officers with lower levels of color-blind beliefs reported they would be less likely to interact with Black youth. Additionally, attrition analyses indicated that officers assigned to the Black youth condition were more likely to drop out when asked to complete the measure of color-blind beliefs. Policy and practice implications are discussed, with a focus on promoting greater discussion of color-blind ideologies in multicultural trainings for police officers and increasing frank discussions about race and racial issues.

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April, K., Cole, L. M., & Goldstein, N. E. S. (2019). Police endorsement of color-blind racial beliefs and propensity to interact with youth of color. Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 37(6), 681–695. https://doi.org/10.1002/bsl.2438

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