The Institute on Race and Ethnicity at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock announced today $20,000 in grant funding for four research projects aimed at reducing and eliminating racial and ethnic disparities in Arkansas.
The announcement coincidentally comes at a time when distrust in law enforcement and the criminal justice system has reemerged as a topic of intense national debate after a grand jury declined on Monday to indict a white law enforcement officer for killing Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, in Ferguson, Missouri.
One of the funded projects speaks specifically to the relationship between police and communities.
Project investigators, Brittani A. McNeal, a Ph.D. candidate, and assistant professors in criminal justice, Drs. Emily R. Berthelot and Julie Marie Baldwin, will examine whether perceptions of the criminal justice system, fear of crime, victimization, and generalized trust influences community members’ decision to call police.
The researchers are also examining whether decisions to contact police varies across racial and ethnic groups and social classes.
“Since its inception in 2011, the institute has championed scholarly work that sheds light on both historical and contemporary accounts of racism,” said Institute on Race and Ethnicity Director Dr. Michael R. Twyman.
“It is our hope that the ‘Examining Calls for Police Service’ project will better inform us about disconnects between law enforcement and the communities they serve and why,” he added.
Building upon responses captured in the 11th annual Racial Attitudes in Pulaski County Survey titled Class, Finance, and Business, the institute awarded each project $5,000. The research projects vary across disciplines.
“The institute’s support of research underscores one of our important goals to inform decision making and formulate public policy that will achieve more equitable outcomes,” said Twyman.
Another study will be conducted by Dr. John A. Kuykendall, associate professor in higher education. Kuykendall will conduct a qualitative study to examine the academic preparation of young black men for the local workforce by paying particular attention to the perceptions, situations, and interests of recent high school graduates.
Dr. Sarah Quintanar, associate professor in economics, will examine the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery and measure its effectiveness in benefitting students living in low-income areas within Arkansas who desire to pursue a college degree.
Dr. Michael Craw, assistant professor and coordinator in the Center for Public Collaboration of the UALR Institute on Government, will conduct a study that seeks to determine whether greater representation by residents in the local policymaking process leads to increased access to a larger share of government resources and how stronger neighborhood-based governance may allow groups to solve community problems more effectively.
To learn more about each research project, go to Inquire. Reveal. Empower. Research Program.
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The Institute on Race and Ethnicity at UALR was founded in July 2011. With a vision to make Arkansas the best state in the country for promoting and celebrating racial and ethnic diversity, the Institute conducts research, promotes scholarship and provides programs that address racial inequities. It does so by facilitating open and honest dialogue aimed at empowering communities and informing public policy to achieve more equitable outcomes. For more information, visit ualr.edu/race-ethnicity or the Institute’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Arkworktogether.