Hunting for

Hunting for "Dirtbags": Why Cops Over-Police the Poor and Racial Minorities

by Lori Beth Way, Ryan Patten

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Hunting for "Dirtbags": Why Cops Over-Police the Poor and Racial Minorities by Lori Beth Way, Ryan Patten

This ethnographic study, which includes participant observation research and in-depth interviews with police officers in a major California city and a large East Coast city, explores how police officers use their discretionary time on the job—and the consequences. Providing highly textured insights into police discretion, the authors show that America’s “tough on crime” approach to justice has too often proved to be a smoke screen for controlling people deemed undesirable, rather than a genuinely effective strategy for reducing crime.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781555538149
Publisher: Northeastern University Press
Publication date: 07/09/2013
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 208
File size: 541 KB

About the Author

LORI BETH WAY is a professor in the Department of Political Science, California State University, Chico. RYAN PATTEN is an associate professor in the Criminal Justice Program, California State University, Chico.

Table of Contents

The Undiagnosed Problem: Discretionary Proactive Policing
Setting the Stage: Stonesville and Seaside
Shaken or Stirred? Choosing Your Policing Style and Level of Proactivity
Hunting Grounds: And May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor
A Vicious Cycle: Re-Policing the Poor and the Effects of Probation and Parole Status
The Future: Service-Oriented Policing

What People are Saying About This

Stephen Mastrofski

“Hunting for ‘Dirtbags’ is an important piece of research on proactive policing. The authors illuminate aspects of officer discretion that have been neglected in studies of American policing and offer an interesting perspective on this perennial policy issue.”

Cassia Spohn

“The authors use rich qualitative data gleaned from observations of police work and interviews with police officers in two communities to describe the discretionary decisions that officers make as they “hunt” for criminals in poor and minority neighborhoods. They convincingly argue that there are institutional structures and organizational incentives that induce the police to patrol these neighborhoods more aggressively. The authors’ approach is critical, but balanced, and their recommendations for reducing the harm caused by discretionary proactive policing are reasonable.”

Norm Stamper

“If you’ve ever wondered why racial profiling, questionable stop-and-frisk practices, and mindless zero-tolerance policies are so pervasive and persistent in American policing, read this book. Way and Patten’s excellent analysis of ‘hunters, slugs, and community- builders’—the three types of officers policing our streets—will resonate with frontline cops, inform the uninitiated, and make clear why so many young people, poor people, and people of color distrust the police.”

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