Vargas, Robert and Philip McHarris (2016) Race and State in City Police Spending Growth 1980 to 2010, Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, June 8, 2016 (Online First) doi: 10.1177/2332649216650692
What has driven city police spending growth in large cities? Studies show that racial threat is an important predictor, but scholars overlook how cities can afford spending increases during hard financial times. Research suggests that federal grants through the 1994 Clinton crime bill and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security play important roles. In this article, the authors ask whether racial threat and federal aid had an interrelated role in city police spending from 1980 to 2010. Using a unique data set on 88 large cities, the authors find that Clinton crime bill grants were associated with city police spending, especially in cities with growing Black populations. The authors also find that from 2000 to 2010, overall federal aid was associated with city police spending, especially in cities with growing foreign-born populations. This study shows that the state, through relationships between federal and local government, has been a critical missing component in the process whereby racial threat shapes local police spending.
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