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Brandon Romero

American Politics & Race and Ethnic Politics

Dissertation Title: "The Politics of Police Protection" 

Committee:  Charles Shipan (co-chair), Mara Ostfeld (co-chair), Vincent Hutchings and Kevin Quinn

Summary: In recent years, proponents of the “Defund the Police” movement have called for scaling back police presence, pointing to the potential benefits of smaller police forces for Black and Latino Americans who suffer from over-policing. Smaller police forces, reformers argue, would result in less discrimination and police violence against Black and Latino Americans. At the same time, however, policing’s role in deterring crime makes the effect of changes in police numbers ambiguous, especially for Black Americans who are disproportionately exposed to criminal violence. What, then, is the effect of police on voting participation and attitudes? This project is the first to theorize and empirically test the effect of police numbers on political behavior and attitudes across racial groups. I theorize that police indirectly affect political outcomes through their effects on crime. Importantly, I argue that Black Americans are uniquely positioned to benefit from reductions in crime. Using data from a natural experiment and two survey experiments, I find evidence consistent with my theory. Perhaps most importantly, I find that police increase Black turnout, primarily among Black men — the group most at risk of criminal victimization. This project speaks to the importance of incorporating criminal violence into our theories of the political consequences of criminal-justice policies and institutions.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at bromero@umich[dot]edu.