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Local researcher seeks insight into how black communities feel about neighborhood crime

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Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio
Andrea Boyles, an associate professor of criminal justice at Lindenwood University-Belleville, discusses her research about how black communities feel about neighborhood crime.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh was joined by Andrea Boyles, an associate professor of criminal justice at Lindenwood University – Belleville, who has recently started a research project called “How Do Blacks Police Themselves?”

Her project seeks to gain insight into how African Americans feel about neighborhood crime. On the program, we learned more about her research.

Boyles previously published a book titled “Race, Place, and Suburban Policing: Too Close for Comfort,” which looked into the policing of African Americans in suburban vs. urban areas.

“A lot of times, what people do, is they draw conclusions from the fact black people may not engage with law enforcement in terms of dealing with crime, crime prevention efforts in their communities which then translates to them embracing lawlessness or harboring criminals,” Boyles said. “That’s just not true. It is a misconception.”

Allaying those misconceptions was the original intent behind her new study.

“It sort of emerged out of this idea that black populations are up in arms when it comes to death by virtue of police engagement but then when there are deaths in their neighborhoods or communities, the response doesn't seem to be the same,” Boyles said. “My project emerged as an effort to … extend a platform to black folks in these communities to allow them space to speak for themselves [rather] than allow for misconceptions to exist, saying they are okay with crime.”

Part of the research is about empowerment.

“What that says is that because there is such distrust with law enforcement that black folks are saying ‘yes, we recognize there are crime issues in our communities, and yes, we are ready to jump in feet-first and deal with it,’” Boyles said. “Maybe dealing with it amongst ourselves becomes a more important option as people are distrustful of law enforcement and of actions that have been taken in shaping, reshaping, deconstructing and reconstructing policing policies and practices in these communities.”

Listen to the full interview here:

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region. 

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Kelly Moffitt joined St. Louis Public Radio in 2015 as an online producer for St. Louis Public Radio's talk shows St. Louis on the Air.

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