Abstract: Explanations of police violence generally pit individual-level theories against macro-level theories resulting in what is parochially described as a debate between “bad apples” and “bad institutions.” Somewhere in-between the officers who engage in misconduct and the larger institution of policing reside the social networks in which officers work and socialize. This study investigates networks of police misconduct for Chicago, IL. Using data on complaints against police officers from both citizens and fellow officers, we recreate and analyze the networks of misconduct, distinguishing between individual and extra-individual level features of the network. We employ a series of statistical models to understand which properties influence the probability that any two officers will be connected in an instance of misconduct. Our results reveal large network structures of misconduct, but uneven levels of involvement among officers. Both individual and extra-individual level factors are strongly association with observed patterns of co-misconduct. Understanding how both officer attributes and network properties contribute to police misconduct might provide new insights for police reform.
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Andrew V. Papachristos (Northwestern University)
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