Aggressive Policing and the Educational Performance of Minority Youth

Josh Legewie, Harvard University
Jeffrey Fagan, Columbia Law School
American Sociological Review
February 11, 2019


This study, which drew upon data from the New York City Department of Education and the New York Police Department, sought to address the “theoretical question” that “aggressive policing can either exacerbate racial inequality in educational attainment by disproportionately targeting youth of color in high-crime neighborhoods, or it can indirectly reduce educational inequality if it reduces violence and crime in risky communities.” After rigorous analysis, the authors “present the first causal evidence suggesting that this widely applied police model, which emphasizes extensive police contact at low levels of suspicious behavior, can lower the educational performance of African American boys, with implications for child development and racial inequality. ” While acknowledging some limitations in their data, the suggest their findings “should encourage police reformers, policymakers, and researchers to consider the broader implications and social costs of policing strategies and tactics.”

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