Race and the Police

Patricia Y. Warren

in Criminology

ISBN: 9780195396607
Published online April 2011 | | DOI:
Race and the Police

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Criminological research has consistently explored the relationship between race and policing. Early research focused particular attention on the various ways in which race influences police interaction with citizens along with their overall decision making. What has emerged from this body of scholarship is the salience of police diversification—that is, police organizations need to racially diversify in order to build better minority-community relations. Despite police organizations efforts to diversify, there are still questions about the salience of race in understanding how officers interact differently with minority citizens. In addition, there is an ongoing dialogue among scholars about how the race and ethnicity of citizens impact their evaluations of police. This research has generally found that black and Hispanic citizens express more dissatisfaction with police than do whites because they are frequently subjected to aggressive police patrols, excessive use of force, and racially biased policing. These experiences, along with a history of degradation, have led to tenuous relations between many black citizens and the police such that even in the absence of bias, police fairness is brought into question. In recent years, stories about racial profiling have circulated throughout the media. “Racial profiling” is a term used to describe the use of race or ethnicity by police as a mechanism for deciding whom to place under police suspicion. It has become another source of distrust of the police, particularly among African Americans and Hispanics. National stories about racial profiling such as the Amadou Diallo shooting in New York raised serious concerns about law enforcement’s ability to treat African American and other minority citizens fairly. In the early 1990s, as police organizations across the US came under fire for disproportionately stopping, searching, and citing minority citizens, scholars began questioning the extent to which the disproportionate number of minorities targeted by police was specifically tied to a biased process on the part of the officer or the police organization. In order to answer this particular question scholars have continued to employ new methodologies while determining what baseline or benchmark is most important when evaluating racial bias on the part of the police organization. Overall, this body of research is an emerging field, and utilizes the most sophisticated statistical and qualitative techniques in order to better understand how the empirical connections between race and policing work.

Article.  6003 words. 

Subjects: Criminology and Criminal Justice ; Criminal Justice ; Criminology

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