Racist Cops, Vested “Blue” Interests, or Both? Evidence from Four Decades of the General Social Survey

Vincent J. Roscigno, Kayla Preito-Hodge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer triggered U.S. and worldwide protests—protests that raised questions about police funding, use of force, and whether police officers are distinctly racist. In this article, the authors draw on nearly four decades of the General Social Survey to examine trends over time and specifically model whether those in law enforcement are more likely to hold racialized and arguably racist views, vested “blue” occupational interests, or both. Trends show declining public support for police expenditure and police use of force over time. The authors’ further modeling highlights stark differences between police and the general public, as well as between cops and those of similar occupational status. Specifically, police uniquely believe that they should receive more funding and have the right to use physical force against citizens; they are also more racist, a pattern especially apparent among white male officers. These findings, which largely support the arguments of current Black Lives Matter protesters, show how vested occupational interests and racialized orientations intersect in important ways, sometimes with perilous consequences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences(all)


  • occupational identities
  • police
  • protest
  • racism


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