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Objectives. Survey research has demonstrated that there is significant race variation in perceptions of the police, with black citizens holding lower levels of trust than do whites. Although these differences have been well documented, few studies have examined if and how these differences vary across police organizations. Using survey data from the North Carolina Highway Traffic Study, the objective of this research was to explore the influence of vicarious experience and perceptions of racial profiling in accounting for racial variation in trust across two levels of policing—highway patrol and city/local police.

Methods. Ordinal logistic regression was utilized to assess both their independent and combined influences as the methodology.

Results. The results suggest that across both police agencies, the race gap in trust is strongly associated with vicarious experience and perceptions of racial profiling.

Conclusions. The results provide some support for examining perceptions of police across levels of policing as the results suggest that perceptions of one police organization are not necessarily generalizable across them all.