"Policing the California Outercity: Drivers of Police Spending in a Changing Metropolis" by PhD Student Ángel Mendiola Ross


PhD Student Ángel Mendiola Ross has an article published on Social Problems. Read the abstract below, and click the link to read the full enthralling article.



This paper explores the intersection of two major trends in the United States over the last forty years: a substantial investment in local law enforcement and the diversification of suburbia. While previous research on police spending has focused almost exclusively on large central cities, this study broadens this perspective to assess how these dynamics play out in outer-ring suburbs. I construct a unique panel dataset of over 200 California municipalities and find that the drivers of police spending vary across the metropolis in significant ways. Fixed-effects models that control for unobserved heterogeneity across place suggest that suburbs with growing shares of renters spend more on police. Elaborating on the concept of renter threat, I show how increases in renter households are associated with increases in police expenditures across a range of model specifications in suburbia. I point to suburban homeowner concerns about crime and property values as well as the history of racial exclusion in suburbia that is often couched in economic terms as potential explanations for these findings. Results point to the enduring role of police as a contemporary mechanism of both social control and inequality in California suburbs.