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Published in: Journal of Criminal Justice, Volume 37, Issue 6, 2009. p. 553-563


It has long been acknowledged that police officers have substantial levels of discretion in their day-to-day activities. There is a well developed body of literature that considers how this discretion is exercised across a broad array of situations including the decision to arrest, use force, and grant citizen requests for official action. Using both social disorganization and conflict theories as conceptual models, the purpose of this study was to determine if neighborhood characteristics affect police reporting behavior across a wide cross-section of reported call types. The findings indicated that reporting behavior widely varies across crime types with a greater percentage of more serious crimes translated into official crime. Neighborhood characteristics did affect reporting practices, but surprisingly only for more serious forms of disorder where discretion was perceived to be less. The findings lent support for both social disorganization and conflict theories. Theoretical implications are discussed.