Rengifo, A.F., Slocum, L.A. and Vijay Chillar (2019). From impressions to intentions. Direct and indirect effects of police contact on willingness to report crimes to law enforcement. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency 56:412-450.
Crime reporting intentions have been associated with ratings of police legitimacy and effectiveness. Less is known about the role of personal encounters with police. We explore this issue by specifying associations between reporting intentions and type of contact (involuntary/voluntary), scope (cumulative/recent), and appraisal (respect/satisfaction with last encounter). This study draws on surveys of young adults in New York City (N = 508) and uses structural equation modeling to examine correlates of crime reporting intentions.
Respondents with more stops are less willing to report, and this effect is both direct and indirect, operating primarily via legitimacy. The association between reporting intentions and variety of voluntary contacts is direct and positive. Negative appraisals of recent stops are associated with lower reporting intentions but only indirectly; feelings of disrespect in recent stops are mediated by perceptions of legitimacy. Dissatisfaction with a recent voluntary contact is related to negative views of police effectiveness, but effectiveness does not shape reporting intentions. Instead, disrespectful voluntary contact has a direct negative relationship with reporting attitudes. The results underscore the importance of better-specifying contact with the police, as reporting intentions and related perceptions of law enforcement vary across experience and appraisal mechanisms.