Characterizing Perceived Police Violence: Implications for Public Health

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Abstract

Despite growing recognition of violence's health consequences and the World Health Organization's recent classification of police officers' excessive use of force as a form of violence, public health investigators have produced scant research characterizing police-perpetrated abuse.

Using qualitative data from a study of a police drug crackdown in 2000 in 1 New York City police precinct, we explored 40 injection drug using and 25 non-drug using precinct residents' perceptions of and experiences with police-perpetrated abuse. Participants, particularly injection drug users and non-drug using men, reported police physical, psychological, and sexual violence and neglect; they often associated this abuse with crackdown-related tactics and perceived officer prejudice.

We recommend that public health research address the prevalence, nature, and public health implications of police violence.

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