1294-Special Topics in law Enforcement _ Police, Race, and Crime

1294-Special Topics in law Enforcement _ Police, Race, and Crime

I. Introduction: conflict between police and racial and ethnic communities

                A. One of the most serious problems in American policing

                B. “Driving while black”–most recent controversy

II. A definition of police-community relations (PCR)

                A. Relations between the police and racial and ethnic minority communities

                                1. How policing in white communities are different than minority communities

                                2. Disparities based on race and ethnicity in the criminal justice system

3. African-Americans represent

                                                a. 13% of the population

                                                b. 31% of all persons arrested

                                                c. 49% of all persons in prison

                B. Different racial and ethnic groups

                                1. Hispanic community

                                                a. relations between the Hispanic community and local police

                                                b. problems related to enforcement of immigration laws

                                2. The changing Hispanic/Latino community in America

                                                a. Hispanic/Latino community

                                                                i. heterogeneous, complex and rapidly growing

                                                                ii. includes U.S. residents, immigrants and refugees

                                                                ii. expected to be the largest racial or ethnic group by 2010

                                3. Terminology

                                                a.  “Hispanic” is used by U.S. census and other government agencies       

                                                b.  labels can imply stereotypes or express power

                                                c.   Hispanic label encompasses many different nationalities

                                4. Changing multicultural society

                                                a. immigrants report crimes at lower rates than other Americans

                                                b. language and cultural barriers create communication barriers

                  C. Definitions of race and ethnicity

                                1. Race

                                                a. traditionally, defined as biological differences

                                                b. currently, the understanding that there are major differences within

                                                each racial category

                                2. Ethnicity

                                                a. refers to cultural differences

                                                b. a person can be ethnically Hispanic but white, black or Native

                                                American in terms of race

                   E. Gender and sexual preference

                                1. Women–police may target young women for traffic stops–harassment

                                2. Gay men, lesbians, transgendered persons–problem relates to

                                disrespect and physical abuse

III. Discrimination vs. disparity

                A. Discrimination

                                1. Differential treatment based on some extra-legal category

                                (EX: race, ethnicity or gender)

                                2. Different forms and degrees of discrimination

                B. Disparity–refers to different outcomes that are not necessarily caused

                by differential treatment

IV. A contextual approach to police-citizen interactions; definition–experiences

and attitudes toward the police vary according to different contexts:

                A. Different departments

                B. Different types of police actions

V. Public opinion and the police

                A. Years of data

                                1. Attitudes remarkably stable over time; local incidents affect local attitudes

                                2. Most Americans are satisfied with the police

                B. Racial and ethnic differences

                                1. 1998 survey

                                                a. 76% of African Americans are satisfied with the police

                                                b. 90% of whites are satisfied with the police

                                                c. Hispanics attitudes are between whites and blacks

                                                                i. most polls have failed to survey Hispanics as a separate group

                                2. Important to examine differences within racial and ethnic communities

                C. Attitudes about police use of force: differences between white and minority

                groups widen on this issue

                                1. Whites have more favorable attitudes than blacks and Hispanics

                                2. African Americans

                                                a. indicate they have been “hassled” by the police more than whites

                                                b. have much fear of the police

                D. Race and class: Washington, D.C. study (Weitzer)

                                1. lower income African American neighborhood-more likely to report:

                                                a. being stopped by the police without good reason

                                                b. that the police use insulting language

                                                c. that police use excessive force

                                                d. having seen the police use excessive force (49%)

                                2. no residents of white middle-class neighborhood reported seeing

                                use of force incidents

                E. Other demographic characteristics

                                1. Age–young people express less satisfaction with police than

                                older people

                                2. Education

                                                a. people with more education rate police more favorably

                                                b. significantly correlated with social class

                                3. Gender has little effect on attitudes toward police

                                4. Crime victims–rate police performance less favorably than


                F. Intercity variations–differences among cities that reflect:

                                1. Differences in activities of police departments

                                2. Departments’ reputations

                G. The impact of controversial incidents, particularly affected by

                questionable shootings or use of physical force

                                1. Rodney King-Los Angeles Police Department

                                                a. approval ratings dramatically fell after incident

                                                b. ratings eventually returned to previous levels

                                2. New York City Police Department-Abner Louima; approval

                                ratings dropped

                H. The Detroit exception

                                1. More African-Americans are satisfied with the police than whites

                                2. Due to the African-American domination of local political establishment

                                                a. since 1973,  mayor has been an African American

                                                b. majority of the police force is African American

                I. Expectations of police performance; dissatisfaction is likely to be greater when:

                                1. People have high expectations about what officers should do

                                2. Where those expectations are not fulfilled

                J. The police and larger society

                                1. Attitudes toward the police do not necessarily reflect:

                                                a. personal experience

                                                b. perceptions of a local police department

                                2. Attitudes may reflect broader set of attitudes toward:

                                                a. society

                                                b. government

                                                c. criminal justice system

                                3. People who express the greatest dissatisfaction with the police

                                                a. have the most negative attitudes toward courts and judges

                                                b. are more alienated from society

                                                c. participate less in politics

                                4. Attitudes toward the police reflect symbolic role of the police as

                                agents of authority

                                                a. badge, gun, baton–visible reminders about officers’ power to use force

                                                b. police are a “social lightning rod”

  VI. Conclusion


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