A nationally-recognized scholar in the area of policing and hate crime, Bell has written extensively on hate crime and criminal justice issues. Her first book Policing Hatred: Law Enforcement, Civil Rights, and Hate Crime (New York University Press 2002) is an ethnography of a police hate crime unit. Her newest book, Police and Policing Law (Ashgate 2006) is an edited collection that explores law and society scholarship on the police.
Bell's research is broadly interdisciplinary, touching on both political science and law. In that regard, she has written in the area of qualitative methodology and she is co-author of Gaining Access: A Practical and Theoretical Guide for Qualitative Researchers (AltaMira Press 2003). Her scholarship has appeared in the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, Rutgers Race & the Law Review, Punishment and Society, and the Michigan Journal of Race and Law. An associate editor of the Law and Society Review, Bell has served a trustee of the Law and Society Association and as a member of the American Political Association's Presidential Taskforce on Political Violence and Terrorism. Her current research focuses on the impact of hate crime on housing segregation.