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Juveniles, Illicit Drug Activity, and Homicides Against Law Enforcement Officers

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2004
23 pages
This study examined juvenile involvement in police officer homicides during the period 1986 through 1991.
During the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, juvenile involvement in homicides sharply increased. Researchers pointed to the increase in juvenile participation in illegal drug markets as the main explanation for the growth in juvenile-involved homicide. The current study examined this explanation by analyzing the relationship between suspected drug market activity and juvenile involvement in homicides against police officers. The authors drew on Goldstein’s systemic model to hypothesize that if juvenile involvement in illegal drug markets was indeed spurring juvenile involvement in homicide, there should be a connection between police officer homicides, juvenile involvement, and suspected drug market activity as the circumstances surrounding the officer’s deaths. Data were drawn from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted records of police homicides during the study period. Variables examined included drug market participation, time frame, juvenile involvement in police killing, and various control measures. Results of descriptive analysis revealed that police officers were rarely killed in circumstances related to suspected drug activity. However, results of log-linear models indicated that drugs are an important factor differentiating police killings that involve juveniles from those that do not involve juveniles; drug circumstance killings were three times more likely to involve juveniles. Overall, the findings did not show a strong connection between juvenile involvement in illicit drug markets and police killings during the study period. Future research should continue to probe the connection between juvenile involvement in drug markets and increases in juvenile-involved homicides. Tables, notes, references

Date Published: November 1, 2004