Racism in Police
The issue of racism in police is increasingly because a topic of debate across the United States. Racism in police can be described as a set of attitudes, convictions, and undertakings that are employed in the justification of inferiorly or superiorly treating racial groups by the law enforcement officers. Racism entails a group of individuals who have been made superior or inferior by the actual or assumed physical attributes such as the color of the skin, texture of the hair, shape of the eyes and other characteristics chosen in a subjective manner. The ethnic communities in the United States that are majorly linked to racism in police are Latino Americans and African Americans (Solis, Portillos, & Brunson, 2009). The majority of states and cities have chosen to evaluate racism in police with respect to the way race and ethnic background might be a matter of consideration in police stops and other acts within their jurisdictions. The pronouncement regarding studies on racial profiling by the law enforcement officers and other public representatives characteristically encompasses a defiance of the existence of the problem and the recognition that it may be worthless to address racism in police.
The law enforcement agents and their unions might gladly permit the political requirement for studies on racism in police on condition that such researches will not be utilized in monitoring and reprimanding individual officials. Some officers may have a feeling that their reliability is being questioned, their application of judgment restricted, and that their capacity to combat crime is being corroded. On the contrary, undertaking such studies offers hope to the ethnic minority groups affected that assistance could eventually come about. The aim of this research paper is to discuss major central impressions, problems, and difficulties entailed in racism in police. It is expected that this study will be helpful to lawmakers and other public stakeholders who could be deliberating of financing or undertaking a similar study, or who might require comprehending or thoroughly assessing the findings in an attempt to address the problem.
Concerns Relating to Racism in Police
Racial profiling is greatly evident in racism in police. Racial profiling denotes the police progression of observing some attributes as pointers of criminal conduct (King, Messner, & Baller, 2009). Profiling is supposedly a law enforcement operation all through the United States, having developed with the integration of social science theory and arithmetical tactic into police officers’ crime resolving and crime avoidance policies. The term racism in police/police racism is a considerably new expression; hence, there it is yet to have an apparent accord on its implication. The discourse regarding racism in police is usually very confusing and contentious. In the existing literature, there seems to be at least two evidently noticeable descriptions of the term, a narrow, and a broad one. In the two instances, the expression is connected to the conduct of the police officers and their treatment of the people of racial minority groups.
Under the narrow description, racism in police arises when a law enforcement agent stops, inquires, incarcerates, and searches a person exclusively anchored in the person’s ethnic background or race. Critics characteristically employ this description while criticizing police racism similar to the manner in which the law enforcement officers do when denying the occurrence of racism in police. Most legal authorities argue that police racism is akin to racial discrimination, which is illegal and broadly rejected in the United States, and affirm that it is reasonably rare amid police officers. They believe that it is impractical for a law enforcement agent to stop and search or arrest an individual based just on his/her race or ethnic group; instead, they feel that other aspects are usually entailed.
In line with the broader description, police racism arises when police officers employ ethnicity or race amid the numerous aspects that result in the decision of stopping, arresting, searching, or questioning a person. An instance of racism in police as explained by the broader description would be a law enforcement agent stopping a person based on the following factors: age (youthful), dressing (baggy trousers), time (late at night), location (in “wrong” environs), and race (African American). Arguing by the broader description, racism in police arises when law enforcement agents usually employ ethnicity as a reason that, alongside the occurrence of other aspects, results in a law enforcement agent acting with suspicion (Chaney & Robertson, 2013).
Police racism is frequently associated with respect to traffic stops by the law enforcement agents (Walker, 2010). Nevertheless, a wide pool of studies makes it seem that the expression is progressively being generalized to encompass other forms of stops or searches by the police officials. The majority of people from the minority communities throughout the United States have for a long time asserted that the law enforcement officers usually employ traffic infringements as an alleged reason behind stopping vehicles to assess other probable criminal activities, for instance, illegal possession of weapons such as guns. The issue of stopping African American drivers in an attempt to find anything incriminating has turned out to be so rampant that the practice is making it appear as if African Americans are being stopped for the crime of driving while black. This has become the standard manner of defining the common encounter of frequent stops, as well as brutality against the people of color; acts that are carried out by the law enforcement agents. Racism in police is not the act of just a few bad officers but has become a prevalent daily incident that calls for systemic restructuring.
In numerous recent occurrences, empirical proof backs allegations of the emergence of considerable racism in police in the United States (Barak, Leighton, & Cotton, 2014). For instance, in New Jersey, there has been the account of Hispanic and African American motorists making up just 13% of the drivers in the state but accounting for 73% of the drivers stopped and frisked by the police officers. On the same note, a research of such occurrences in Maryland asserted that although the African American drivers are just 17% on some highways, they constituted of over 71% of the ones stopped and frisked by the law enforcement agents.
It is also apparent that African American drivers have a twofold or threefold chance of being ticketed when judged against their white counterparts. Studies show that though Hispanics are less than 8% of the Illinois population, they form over 27% of the motorists stopped and searched by the police. Moreover, the United States General Accounting Office, a public research body, issued findings that out of the passengers returning to the American airports from flights overseas, a very high number of black females were taken through more infringing searches such as strip searches. In numerous occurrences, the charges that have been filed against such acts of police racism fail because of racial discrimination in the criminal justice system.
The rising publication of reliable information backs the allegation that police racism is widespread across the United States (Huq, Tyler, & Schulhofer, 2011). For instance, in one case, Charles and Etta Carter, an aged black couple, were stopped by police in Maryland during their fortieth wedding anniversary. The police officers frisked their vehicle and even decided to use sniffer dogs. In the course of the act, the wedding garment of their daughter was thrashed about before being gusted to the ground by passing trucks. In the course of the operation, Mrs. Carter was prohibited from using a public lavatory since the law enforcement agents feared that she was attempting to flee. Their property and personal effects were scattered on the ground where the dogs trod and urinated on them. At the end of the intensive search, the police found no drugs, which was contrary to their expectations.
Views of Racism in Police
Recently, a Gallup Poll was carried out in the United States and entailed about 2,000 phone interviews that were randomly chosen to carry out the study. It was established that about fifty-six percent of the white residents and seventy-seven percent of African Americans were convinced that racial profiling was an extensive progression in the US. Furthermore, just 6% of the whites and 42% of African Americans believed that they had been stopped by the law enforcement agents due to their racial backgrounds. 72% of youthful black individuals that carried out a survey (between 18 and 34 years of age) had a feeling that they had earlier been subjected to racism by the police officers (Jackson, Huq, Bradford, & Tyler, 2013). Likewise, a high number of youthful African American males asserted that they had negative perceptions of the local law enforcement agents. It has been made to appear that law enforcement officials stop motorists from minority groups since they are convinced that the people of color have a higher probability of committing some forms of crimes when judged against the whites.
Most of the police officers in the United States affirm that the high number of stops and arrests against the people of color does not represent the use of race in making decisions concerning whom to stop, frisk, or detain. They maintain that they consider other aspects and not race in their operations and decisions, for instance, driving while drunk, suspicious actions, and other forms of violation of the law (Gabbidon, 2010). They affirm that if the findings are racially disproportionate, it is because the other aspects occur in high levels amid the minority communities. In this regard, the police officers disagree with the concerns of racism happening in law enforcement actions. For instance, Drug Enforcement Agency representatives declare that race is not amid the factors considered by the officers in the hunt for illegal drug traffickers. They also affirm that Drug Enforcement Agency officials do not consider the race of a person while deciding whether an individual suits the profile of a possible drug trafficker. However, they assert that drug traffickers arrested by the officers sometimes account for a high number of people from minority groups.
In the 1970s, the Colombians came to a decision of eradicating all middlemen and driving the facets of cocaine trade right from planting, to processing, to trafficking, and eventually selling it on the streets of American cities. Consequently, the majority of the arrested drug couriers were Columbians. In the mid-1980s, the Columbian traffickers started engaging African Americans and other minority groups who would take part in the cracking of cocaine and distribute it all through the United States. As a result, there was a great rise in the incarceration of youthful, African American, male traffickers. Additionally, the heroin couriers from Nigeria changed from smuggling the drugs themselves and began using youthful, white ladies. In no time, the smugglers started recruiting older, white men and women. This affirms that drug traffickers could be from any ethnic group, and the courier attributes have stayed somewhat the same all through the years. The main aspects to consider in the profiling of drug traffickers encompass such things as preferred cities for arrival or departure, the means of payment, and the schedules, routes, period, and frequency of the trips (Brunson & Weitzer, 2011). Such factors, taking into deliberation the trip reservation account and the outgoing and incoming calls, distinguish the passenger from the others.
Admitting and Defending Police Racism
Some police officials admit the occurrence of racism in police in line with the broader description, with ethnic group acting as one of the numerous aspects employed, but go ahead to defend it as being proper judging by the dissimilar patterns of engagement in criminal activities by the people from minority groups. Those who defend police racism assert that, in regions where youthful African American men carry out tremendous levels of street crimes, the law enforcement officers have a valid reason for examining the members of the race more profoundly than other ethnic groups, similar to the manner in which they are justified in probing males more intensely than females. For most police officers, racism acts as a prudent, statistically anchored instrument that allows police officers to apply their energy more effectively; it reduces the outlay of acquiring and processing data thus lessening the expenses of policing. Some studies affirm that police racism should continue based on the above explanation, as it acts as a successful way of combating criminal actions (Gabbidon, Higgins, & Potter, 2011).
It is evident that the people who support police racism do it on statistical basis, through citing the empirical reality that, in some regions, people linked to some ethnic groups are involved in a high number of criminal activities. National data could be seen as a way of backing such allegations. For instance, recent federal information discloses that African Americans across the United States, who represent about 13% of the population, account for 43% of the people that are incarcerated for dissimilar crimes associated with violence (Stewart, Baumer, Brunson, & Simons, 2009). Another argument in support of police racism is that it may assist in addressing some criminal activities. For instance, law enforcement officers believe that the approach of assertively stopping, frisking, and spotting young, black, male motorists that drive recklessly or do it late in the night assists in divesting any potential criminal amongst them of the anonymity that is vital to prevent arrest for criminal actions such as murder, rape, and robbery. On this note, racism in police may help in deterring such potential felons from committing or running away with crime.
Arguments in opposition to Police Racism
Some of the arguments made against police racism encompass both constitutional interests and realistic deliberations (Schlosser, Cha-Jua, Valgoi, & Neville, 2015). Amid the most powerful arguments in opposition to racism in police is the one anchored in the equal protection section of the American law, under the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution. Such assertions start with an insistence on the unique importance of racial characteristics in the life and regulations involving the US residents. Racism in police is and ought to be distinguished from any form of stratification. This is the reason behind the courts consistent ruling, from the period of civil rights movement, that mere tenability is an inadequate proof for police officers to discriminate people based on their race or ethnicity. On such incidents, the courts have recommended the application of strict inspection, a strong degree of judicial process, to enforcing the adherence to the law. Consistent with this hard-hitting principle, the consideration of race in the strategies of the police force could be permissible just when it implements a convincing government approach and when narrowly adapted to enhance the purpose.