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Case Study Summary: New Orleans Police (Use of Force and Arrest)

The research examines the representative bureaucracy on the level of force that police officers use and if they make an arrest in the use of force encounters while controlling for situational conditions (Headley & Wright, 2020). The researchers use individual-level data from New Orleans, Louisiana, to estimate the impact of racial encounters on policing outcomes (Headley & Wright, 2020). The quantitative analysis of the research approach shows estimated uses of force and arrest by New Orleans police officers. The purpose statement clearly states the intent of the study to show if the racial representation of police officers has an impact on policing encounters with civilians. The representation of bureaucracy in New Orleans is roughly even between White and Black police officers (Headley & Wright, 2020). The participants are the individual-level data collected by the police officer's testimonies of their police-civilian encounters. Common themes of the literature review show synthesis that requires the researchers to find similarities and differences among other peer-reviewed research relevant to racial biases and racial encounters with the police (Burkholder et al, 2019).

The dependent variables are the level of force and if the civilian was arrested (Headley & Wright, 2020). The independent variables are if the officers and civilians were the same race or racial combinations of officers and civilians (Headley & Wright, 2020). The control variables were situational circumstances, such as weather or unclear conditions, weapon presence, civilian demographics & characteristics, and officer characteristics (Headley & Wright, 2020). The dependent variables consider the idea that officers use different levels of force when encountering civilians of different or the exact racial representation as themselves. Controlling the linear probability models for same-race match and racial combinations explains the standard errors at the incident level and the correlation between officer racial match and racial combinations (Headley & Wright, 2020).

The initial theory was that race plays a factor in police officers arrest rates of civilians. In hypothesis 1, the shared racial match of officers and civilians will conclude less punishable levels of force by police (Headley & Wright, 2020). Hypothesis 2 questions if the shared racial identity between officers and civilians will conclude the same arrest outcomes compared to police encounters without a racial match (Headley & Wright, 2020). The findings showed that mirroring theories of street-level bureaucracy and representative bureaucracy do not rely on racial shortcuts for police decision-making. Headley & Wright might have fallen into an ecological fallacy which means erroneously basing conclusions about individuals (policing decisions) solely on the observation of groups (race of civilians in the policing encounter) (Babbie, 2016). This research is a cohort study that uses a subpopulation of the New Orleans police department from 2016 to 2019 with a focus on policy and practice of levels of force and arrests (Babbie, 2016).

This research can inform policymakers that create public safety regulations. Informing practitioners, including law enforcement, legal representatives, civilians, public safety community programs, and other researchers. The positive social change that can come from this article helps New Orleans police officers understand their impact on their community. Uses of force should come rarely unless the civilian is directly uncompliant to commands by the officer. Positive social change can also make the general public aware that race does not always factor into a policing decision because police must abide by the standards and legal obligations during the charging and adjudication process. Ethical research brings new positive social change by officer civil procedures when encountering diverse racial civilians. Behavioral sciences of ongoing police tactics can give law enforcement departments new policies when dealing with a single or group of civilians at various events. The logistics of police arrests and formulating new methods of corrective civilian actions can create new positive social change.


Babbie, E. R. (2016). The Basics of Social Research (7th ed.). Cengage Limited.

Burkholder, G. J., Cox, K. A., Crawford, L. M., & Hitchcock, J. H. (2019). Research Design and Methods. SAGE Publications, Inc. (US).

Headley, A.M. & Wright, J.E. (2020). Is representation enough? Racial disparities in levels of force and arrests by police. Public Administration Review, 80(6), 1051-1062.

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