Examining the Impact of the Freddie Gray Unrest on Perceptions of the Police

Clair White*, David Weisburd, Sean Wire

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Research Summary: Taking advantage of a large residential survey that was ongoing in Baltimore, Maryland, during the riots surrounding the death of Freddie Gray in 2015, in this study, we examined changes in attitudes of procedural justice and police legitimacy before and after the events occurred. We found little change in measures of obligation to obey the law, trustworthiness of the police, and procedural justice among residents of Baltimore. Policy Implications: The police are facing a challenging period of turmoil and reform as incidents of police use of force against minorities continue to draw national attention. Our findings suggest, however, that these macro-level events may have little immediate impact on views of police legitimacy and procedural justice, as contrasted with longer term historical relationships between the police and the public. We argue that more research is needed to understand broader societal factors that shape people's perceptions of the police as law enforcement and policy makers search for policies and programs to build trust with minority communities.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)829-858
Number of pages30
JournalCriminology and Public Policy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 American Society of Criminology


  • Baltimore
  • Freddie Gray
  • attitudes of police
  • crisis of police legitimacy
  • procedural justice


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