POLICE AND RACE

Table of Contents

Table of Contents. 1

Abstract 2

1.0 Introduction. 3

2.0 Literature Review.. 5

3.0 Methodology. 7

4.0 Conclusion. 9

5.0 References. 10

Abstract

Racism has been a bone of contention in police service over time. Several factors interplay to culminate in the current scenario; where minority groups are treated with prejudice from the police. While minority groups have been implicated for contributing to the current state of affairs, most studies affirm that the police also play an integral role in exacerbating the existent conditions. The police perpetuate this condition through their harsh treatment of the affected population. This study underscores particular ways in which the police contribute to this state of affairs.

1.0 Introduction

Racial concerns in policing have raised various controversies in the recent past. These have ranged from police bias when dealing with minority groups to lack of minority inclusion in the military and police forces. Other areas of concern have pertained to language disparities that have increasingly compromised the relationship between the police and minority populations. This has culminated in an increase in minority representation in the criminal justice system. In addition, this has been implicated for an increase in incidences of social deviance of minority populations. Perhaps the most significant effect has been the negative impact on the quality of life of the affected population.

Also, the strained social relations between the police and minority populations have further undermined the efforts of the former in fighting crime. It is in this consideration that this study seeks to analyze the role of the police in perpetuating racism. This would provide a basement upon which future decisions in this respect would be undertaken. In particular, it would ensure that decisions that are made in future are well informed and sustainable in nature.

Analyzing the approaches of the police in dealing with crime especially with minority populations is imperative as it underscores areas that have deficiencies and enables relevant parties to derive sustainable counter measures (Ecosbar, 1999). It is also important as it evaluates the contribution of each party in perpetuating crime. Of great importance however is the fact that it ascertains misconceptions that are often reported by the media and hence enables the public to have a clear perception of various factors contributing to the problem under review. Notably, only then can they be able to also participate in alleviating the problem. Regarding this study, Kelly (1999) contends that it is especially important because of the fact that minority populations and especially the Latinos and Blacks have been identified to have participated actively in crime in the past year. Also, the media reports indicate that the participation of the police in perpetuating racism has been significant (Harris, 1999). Therefore, ascertaining the contribution of the police would provide useful insights with regards to measures that can be undertaken by the same to counter the scenario.

In undertaking this study, the researcher presumes that the police play a significant role in perpetuating racism and other inherent differences between them and the minority groups. In particular, it assumes that the police are influenced by certain stereotypic racial information to react harshly towards the minority populations. Essentially, it speculates that racism plays an integral role in influencing the type of treatment that the police accords individuals from different races. Furthermore, the study posits that the minority groups are not incorporated in the military and police institutions. This has in return led to increases in conflicts that stem from social and cultural factors like language.

With regard to research methods, this study will utilize a host of information from credible secondary sources as well as primary sources. In particular, it will review important information from books, journals, articles, credible internet sites and newspapers.  In addition, it will undertake a field survey using interview schedules in two police departments in order to collect vital information from the police’s point of view.

2.0 Literature Review

Operations in the police department have over time been compounded by different challenges. Recent research shows that the police play a critical role in perpetuating incidences of racial prejudice and bias against minority populations. This occurs in various ways and is carried out either consciously or unconsciously. To begin with, Ecosbar (1999) indicates that the police authorities do no recruit sufficient personnel from minority populations. This has adverse impacts on their overall performance because they do not understand and appreciate the unique needs of these populations. Statistical evidence shows that close to seventy percent of police departments across the nation do not have a thirty percent staff representation by minority populations (Kelling, 1999).

This has been very challenging for police departments that are situated in areas with a significant percentage of minority populations. In most cases, they have been compelled to employ the public in carrying out different operations. This undermines the quality of service and minority populations not only feel discriminated against but they also develop distrust of the police force. According to Kelling (1999), this further complicates police performance especially in instances where public corporation is required. The refusal of the minority populations under such circumstances to participate in fighting crime further raises police suspicion (Ecosbar, 1999).

The police have also participated in perpetuating racial prejudice through racial profiling. In this respect, Harris (1999) argues that the minority populations often tend to fall victims of police scrutiny under this operation. This has been a source of controversy since historical times and it contributes significantly to feelings of distrust in police operations by the minority populations. More often than not, minority populations feel targeted and discriminated against by the police. This enhances social deviance that then contributes to the over representation of the minority populations in the criminal justice system.  According to Harris (1999), racial profiling is partly influenced by stereotypes about different races. Most of the profiles employed were created during historical times and were not based on factual information. The fact that these have not been revised through time disadvantages the minority populations that were discriminated against since historical times. In his review, Ecosbar (1999) argues that these are at times computer generated and tend to be biased in nature.

Also, the police have been on the fore front in enhancing racial prejudice by failing to incorporate cultural studies in their training. Kelling (1999) indicates that most police officers cannot communicate effectively in minority languages. Furthermore, they lack fundamental cultural knowledge that would be imperative in enhancing their interaction with minority populations. This according to Ecosbar (1999) has contributed significantly to conflicts between the police and the respective populations. With respect to language, it has become difficult for officers to communicate with locals during the resolution of crimes. In addition, Harris (1999) contends that lack of understanding of critical cultural norms of the minority populations have undermined the ability of the police to address crimes in an effective manner. The inherent gap has triggered hostilities between the two factions that are characterized by discrimination and racial prejudice.

3.0 Methodology

The proposed sample for this study will be 50 respondents that would comprise of a total of twenty police officers from Denver Police Department and Colorado Springs Police Department and thirty local citizens from the city of Colorado. This would constitute ten Black males, five Asian Males, five White males and ten Hispanic males. All these would be aged between eighteen and fifty years. The sample would focus on the male populations because it is indicated that they are the most affected with racial and ethnicity issues. The main incentive that would be employed for the respondents would be compensating each participant with $30 at the end of the study. To recruit the sample constituting local citizens, the researcher would place an advertisement in the local newspaper, The Colorado Springs Gazette. Seemingly, this is the most widely read newspaper and it is likely to reach a significant percentage of the population.

The recruitment criteria would be adult males between the ages of eighteen and fifty from the specified ethnic groups. In addition, they need to have interacted with the police in different ways or have close relatives or friends who have had an encounter with the police for various reasons. Successful applicants would then be contacted through mail. Fifteen police officers would be drawn from each police department for interview. These need to have handled cases dealing with minority populations and specifically the Blacks, Asians and Hispanics. In addition, they need to be well versed with the specific needs of the minority populations with respect to criminal justice.

The study will utilize qualitative method of data collection and will specifically employ questionnaires for collecting data from local citizens and interview schedules for collecting data from police officers. Considering the fact that race concerns tend to be sensitive, it would be imperative to accord all participants privacy and confidentiality. This would be attained by keeping contact information confidential and labeling the interview schedules and questionnaires as using letters and numbers as opposed to names. The main that the respondents are likely to face pertains to security and confidentiality. According to Babbie (2003), relative concerns tend to make the local citizens skeptical and therefore hesitant about participating in the study. Most of the questions that will be asked will revolve around issues of racism and ethnicity and how the police officers are involved in these. Since not all questions would be applicable to the entire sample, questionnaires and interview schedules would be customized to address issues that are pertinent to specific groups.

Nonetheless, examples of questions would include: what is the current state of race relations between the police and the respective group(s); what are police weaknesses when dealing with respective minority groups; how has prejudice been manifested during interaction; what was the contribution of the minority population(s) to bias; how did the public respond to this; what steps have been undertaken by the police to counter racism; what steps should be undertaken by the criminal justice system to address ethnicity and racism; how can the minority populations contribute to shunning racism; what is the contribution of the media and Are there any significant policy implications? The independent variable for this study would be contribution of the police to perpetuating racism and ethnicity. The independent variables on the other hand would comprise of the respective contributions of specific minority groups to incidences of bias and prejudice, practical measures being undertaken by all parties to counter the scenario, policy implications emanating from the practice and the perception of the public to this.

4.0 Conclusion

At this point, it is certain that racial diversity is still a thorny issue within the criminal justice system. As it has come out from the study, the minority populations are on the receiving end in this regard as they continue struggling with the negative impacts of racial prejudice and discrimination. The police have been on spot with regard to perpetuating racial discrimination of minority populations. To begin with, the failure of the relevant authorities to incorporate minority populations in the force has made it difficult for the force to address the needs of the diverse population with ease.

Then, the failure of the police to incorporate cultural studies in their training has led to their being ill equipped with fundamental skills and knowledge that is imperative in interacting with minority populations. The resultant frustration of the police and development of distrust by minority populations has led to incidences of racial bias. Finally, racial prejudice has been a source of discontent by the minority populations who feel that the police intentionally target them. This is further compounded by the fact that the police employ profiles that were developed during historical times and which were influenced by racism.

5.0 References

Babbie, A. (2003). The Practice of Social Research. USA: Wadsworth

Ecosbar, E. (1999). Race, Police and the Making of a Political Identity. California: University Press.

Harris, D. (1999). Driving While Black and all Other Traffic Offenses. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 87 (2), 12-9.

Kelling, G. (1999). Broken Windows and Police Discretion. Washington DC: National Institute of Justice.

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