American Sociological Association

Policing Gentrification: Stops and Low‐Level Arrests during Demographic Change and Real Estate Reinvestment

Does low‐level policing increase during gentrification? If so, are police responding to increased crime, increased demand by new residents, or are they attempting to “clean up” neighborhoods marked for economic redevelopment? To address these questions, I construct a longitudinal dataset of New York City neighborhoods from 2009 to 2015. I compile data on neighborhoods’ demographics, street stops, low‐level arrests, crimes, 311 calls to the police, and—using a novel measure—property values. Maps, spatiotemporal modeling, and fixed effects regressions compare changes in stops and low‐level arrests to changes in several measures of gentrification. I find, on average, calls to the police increased after a neighborhood's middle‐class population grew. Calls did not translate into more stops or low‐level arrests, however. Net of crime and spatial autocorrelation, police made more order‐maintenance and proactive arrests following real estate market growth, suggesting development‐directed policing. Property value growth in wealthy and already gentrified neighborhoods was not associated with an increase in arrests, underscoring policing's role in early‐stage urban “renewal.” The article includes an analysis of three sources of property value data.


Brenden Beck





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