It is high in racially isolated communities (15) but paradoxically stimulates calls for more police assistance.
Third, we consider the impact of another variable—procedural justice—commonly used to explain neighborhood crime reporting. (7), and others, procedural justice theory posits that residents’ views about the legitimacy of the police and their trust and confidence in police explain residents’ reporting of crime.
Vaisey applied his theory at the individual level in contemporary settings without consideration of historical and community-level processes.
We use a neighborhood approach to examine the paradox of resident engagement with police whom they view with skepticism or active distrust.
We argue that insights from Vaisey’s (13, 14) dual-process framework, combined with legal cynicism theory (15–18), can explain the paradox of reliance on police in disadvantaged minority communities.
Using Sampson’s concept of legal cynicism and Vaisey’s dual-process theory, we theorize that racial concentration and isolation consciously and nonconsciously influence neighborhood variation in 911 calls for protection and prevention.
The data we analyze are consistent with this thesis.
Second, we link Vaisey’s theory with the macrolevel cultural schema of legal cynicism.
At the neighborhood level, legal cynicism reflects a shared disbelief in the law, police, and justice system.
Cynicism about lawlessness and police crime prevention and protection efforts is often high in predominately African-American neighborhoods, but residents persist in calling 911 and requesting police assistance.
These calls continue to rise in neighborhoods that have recently experienced further increases in racial isolation, incarceration, and home foreclosures.
We show how structural forces combine with legal cynicism and contribute to neighborhood variation in 911 calls for help despite distrust of police.
Our results suggest police failures to prevent crime and provide protection—more than procedural legitimacy—explain America’s racially troubled police–community relations. He notes that in interviews people’s narratives about their thoughts are often contradictory, suggesting both processes and a divided self. It is the enduring, internalized nature of these schema-driven choices that make them persistent rather than transitory.
Elaborated in this way, legal cynicism highlights the failure of both law and its agents—the police—to prevent unlawful behavior or provide protection.