Predictors of police brutality in a group of methamphetamine users in Delft, Cape Town, South Africa
Introduction: Police brutality is a form of violence that negatively impacts health globally. Illegal drug use increases the likelihood that substance users will meet police globally. Methamphetamine use trends in South Africa have been increasing since the early 2000s. In this paper, secondary data analysis was done to examine predictors of methamphetamine users experiencing police brutality. Methods: Respondent driven sampling was used to recruit a sample of 360 active methamphetamine users in Delft, Cape Town, South Africa. Clinical interviews and computerized interviews were used to capture historical information about demographics, drug use, experiences of police violence, attitudes towards police, gang involvement, and arrest records. Logistic regression models were used to determine predictors of experiences of police brutality by sex. Results: The sample had a total of 202 males and 160 females, experiences of police violence were 53% and 14%, respectively by sex. 94% of participants reported prior arrests. Of those arrests, 48% and 39% were gang and drug related, respectively. Both male and female participants were more likely to experience police violence when reported weapon-related (OR 2.988, 95% CI=1.543-5.787) and drug-related (OR 1.796; 95% CI=1.140-2.829). Discussion: The analysis presented here adds to the current data about predictors of experiencing police violence. Further research should be conducted to determine if these results are generalizable to populations of substance users outside of the Delft township. The creation of policing policies based on research driven interventions need to be drafted and implemented to decrease the negative effects that abuses of police power have on public health.
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