This paper presents fieldwork on police–citizen interactions in a setting of (latent) friction with ethnically diverse populations. Often, the police are frustrated with disorderly youngsters hanging out on streets and squares. Contrary to what was anticipated, however, escalation occurred only sporadically. Patrol officers were most keen on traffic control and order maintenance and, in so doing, dealt most frequently with youngsters from minority groups. Community officers played a more socially engaged role, but were less willing and able to gain access to such groups. Taken together, both types of officers managed to preserve sensible contacts with ethnic minority populations due to their professionalism in regulating emotions and their realisation that overly harsh police action would make things worse.

Ronald van Steden & Jolijn Broekhuizen​


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