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Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management





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race, meta-analysis, attitudes toward police, contacts between police and public, research synthesis, scoping review, police/race relations, Canada, USA


Purpose – This scoping review thoroughly scanned research on race, contacts with police and attitudes toward police. An exploratory meta-analysis then assessed the strength of their associations and interaction in Canada and the USA. Key knowledge gaps and specific future research needs, synthetic and primary, were identified. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach – A germinal methodological framework for conducting scoping reviews was used (Arksey and O’Malley, 2005). The authors searched for published or unpublished research over the past 15 years and retrieved 33 eligible surveys, 19 of which were included in a sample-weighted meta-analysis.

Findings – The independent association of contact with attitudes toward police was estimated to be three times larger than the independent race association. Three large knowledge gaps were identified. Almost nothing is known about these associations among specific racial groups as they were typically aggregated into visible minority groupings. The authors have essentially no knowledge yet about specific racial group by a specific type of contact interactions. There is also a lack of generalizable knowledge as research has been largely restricted to locales.

Originality/value – This is the first research synthesis of race and attitudes toward the police that incorporated contacts with the police. Its observation of the relative importance of contacts suggested a great preventive potential. This scoping review identified needs for a full systematic research review and a formal meta-analysis to plan future primary research including large national studies that are truly representative of Canada and America’s diversity. Such will be needed to advance more confident knowledge about the factors that would support more trusted relationships between police and people in the communities they aim to serve.


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