Do politics Trump race in determining America's youths’ perceptions of law enforcement?

Adam D. Fine, Zachary Rowan, Cortney Simmons

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    30 Scopus citations


    Purpose: Controversial encounters between racial minorities and law enforcement have led to increased public discourse surrounding race and law enforcement in the United States. A “racial gap” in perceptions of law enforcement exists and appears to be growing. Researchers have not adequately examined how political preference may contribute to diverging views of law enforcement. Method: Using data drawn from the Monitoring the Future study, the current study examines how race and political preference might jointly influence the way youth (12th graders) viewed law enforcement from 2005 to 2016. Results: In all years, White Democrats reported worse perceptions of law enforcement than did White Republicans, yet the gap in perceptions has been growing in recent years. In contrast, Democratic and Republican Latinx youth reported similar perceptions of law enforcement until 2012, at which point Democratic Latinx youth began reporting worse perceptions than Republican Latinx youth. Finally, there were no discernable differences in Black youths’ perceptions of law enforcement by political party across the years. Conclusions: These findings suggest that while there is a racial gradient in how young adults perceive law enforcement, political orientation contributes to heterogeneity in youths’ perceptions of law enforcement.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)48-57
    Number of pages10
    JournalJournal of Criminal Justice
    StatePublished - Mar 1 2019


    • Individual differences
    • Law enforcement
    • Policing
    • Politics
    • Race

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Social Psychology
    • Applied Psychology
    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Law


    Dive into the research topics of 'Do politics Trump race in determining America's youths’ perceptions of law enforcement?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this