Research

We’re inside of what we make, and it’s inside of us. We’re living in a world of connections – and it matters which ones get made and unmade. ~Donna Haraway

Areas of Interest: Police Violence | Police Legitimacy | Militarism/ization | Queer Law and Safety | Queer Informal Legal Cultures | Abolition

Police Violence, Legitimacy, and Militarism

Queer Law and Safety

Articles in Progress

Grasso, Jordan. In Progress. “‘Life-Saving’ or Deadly? Examining Police Militarization and Weaponization in California Police Departments.”

[Abstract] In this study, I analyze the relationship between police violence and militarization. Specifically, I assess the connection between material materialization – defined as the proliferation of military weapons and weapon accessories – in California police departments and police violence. Since 1997, local, county, state, and university law enforcement agencies across the country have acquired free military equipment through the 1033 Program, ranging from ready-to-eat meals, dumbbells, generators, and snowsuits to military rifles, high-caliber ammunition, armored vehicles, bayonets, and battering rams directly from the Department of Defense. Drawing on data from California police departments and the Federal 1033 Program, I reveal that the weaponization of local police departments drives the relationship between police militarization and the use of force. Specifically, I find that departments that receive more weapons and weapon accessories are significantly more likely to have higher counts of both lethal force and gun discharges committed by the police. 


Grasso, Jordan, Valerie Jenness, and Stefan Vogler. In Progress. “Police Avoidance: The Impact of LGBTQ Identities, Police Legitimacy, and Legal Cynicism on Hate Crime Reporting Attitudes.”

[Abstract] Criminologists, policymakers, and police scholars have long studied crime reporting correlates. However, questions remain unanswered about sexual minorities’ (SMs) hate crime reporting. This article assesses factors that shape the probability that SMs report bias-motivated crime victimization to the police. Specifically, we ask: (1) Does SM identity impact the likelihood of reporting future hate crime victimization, (2) Does SM identity impact views of the legal system and police, and (3) How do legal cynicism and perceptions of police legitimacy shape the likelihood of legal mobilization among SM hate crime victims? To answer these questions, we utilize survey data collected by the Vera Institute of Justice that captures experiences with hate crime victimization and reporting, as well as legal cynicism and perceptions of law enforcement. We find that SM identity does not directly affect hate crime-reporting behavior. However, SMs are more likely to express legal cynicism and less likely to view the police as legitimate, therefore influencing reporting behaviors and police avoidance.


Grasso, Jordan, and Kariar Al-Naiem. “’Increase Police Training!’: An Analysis of Hours Spent on Police Training and Outcomes of Violence.”

Since the “professional era of policing,” police reform has focused extensively on the opportunity to reduce the use of force and violent outcomes caused by police during contact with the community. Following nearly every incident of police violence, the public, policymakers, and police alike suggest increasing budgets to better equip officers with opportunities to learn de-escalation techniques. After George Floyd’s murder in 2020, reformists across the country pushed back against wide-ranging calls to defund the police and instead suggested increasing spending to provide more training to police officers. Police training research has varied results. Some find positive outcomes like greater productivity and conflict resolution (see Klinger 2009; Lee and Vaughn 2010; Scott 2005), while others find no significant effect of police training (see Lee et al. 2010; Terrill and Mastrofski 2002). In this study, we draw on National Officer Involved Homicide Data to explore the relationship between the hours required in police academy training and outcomes of police violence. Preliminary results are discussed, including the surprising finding that departments that require more training within the academy experience more use of force.

Selected Presentations

2022. “Increase Police Training? Differential Association in the Police Academy and Outcomes of Violence” Presented with Kariar Al-Naiem. Pacific Sociological Association Annual Meeting. Sacramento, CA.

[Click here to view presentation slides]

2022. “’Police Avoidance: Sexuality Minority Identities and Hate Crime Reporting Attitudes.” Presented with Valerie Jenness and Stefan Vogler at the Western Society of Criminology Annual Meeting. Honolulu, HI.

2021. “’Increase Police Training!’: An Analysis of Hours Spent on Police Training and Outcomes of Violence” with Kariar Al-Naiem Poster Presentation at the American Society of Criminology Annual Meeting. Chicago, IL.

2021. “Weaponizing California Cops: An Analysis of Gun Discharges and Militarization in California Police Departments.” Justice Studies Association Annual Meeting. June 3. *Virtual due to COVID-19.

[Click here to view presentation slides]

2021. “‘Law and Ethnography’:  A Lab Approach to Building a Research Community.” Roundtable Panelist. Law and Society Association Annual Meeting. Chicago, IL. May 27-30. *Virtual due to COVID-19.

2021 “‘Life-Saving’ or Deadly? Examining Police Militarization and Weaponization in California Police Departments.” UCI Associated Graduate Student Virtual Symposium. April 24.

2021. “Evaluating Police Militarism: Theories, Research, and Future Prospects.” Pacific Sociological Association Annual Meeting. San Diego, CA. March 18-21. *Virtual due to COVID-19.

2019. “Repercussions of the 1033 Program: Police Material Militarism and Use of Deadly Force.” American Society of Criminology Annual Meeting. November 15. San Francisco, CA.