What kind of racial discrimination is present among law enforcement officials in detection & the decision to arrest?What kind of racial discrimination is present among law enforcement officials in...

What kind of racial discrimination is present among law enforcement officials in detection & the decision to arrest?

What kind of racial discrimination is present among law enforcement officials in detection & the decision to arrest?

Asked on by djmckay

3 Answers | Add Yours

catd1115's profile pic

catd1115 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

Posted on

The reality is that racism and in particular racial profiling is a decision made by each law enforcement officer in each situation. Any officer can make a good or bad decision at any time. This being said, there is a culture of conformity amongst law enforcement that encourages these practices. In addition there is a warped view, particularly of African American men, within law enforcement, that they are a greater danger to themselves and society. Law enforcement has long been a "good ole boys" club and that changes how officers look at perpetrators. Many in law enforcement do not feel that minority or women officers "have their back" and expect them to be criminals not officers of the law.

All that being said, racial profiling goes on. In many cases a minority will be accused or stopped more often than a white person. In addition, once under the view of law enforcement minorities are less likely to be given the benefit of the doubt. 

I think racism in law enforcement is a result of long standing prejudices that have been re-enforced and continued for generations. It is an area where tradition (even if that tradition is racist and unfair) holds great sway.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

One way to answer this is to say that it is unconscious racial discrimination that is at work here.  You can say that police do not consciously seek to arrest African Americans more than other races.  However, they are unconsciously affected by societal portrayals of African Americans as more likely to be criminals. (Of course, we must take into account the fact that African Americans do commit more crimes per capita than other races.  So it's hard to say for sure that racism is what causes police to arrest blacks more often than whites.)

readerofbooks's profile pic

readerofbooks | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

This is a good question. Unfortunately, we do live in a world where race matters. People still make assumption of people based on how they look. This is even true of law enforcement. Let me give you a few ways in which this is done. 

First, there is racial profiling. So, often times, the police target certain races more than others. More African-Americans are pulled over by the police and given a hard time. Last year, professor Gates from Harvard University was stopped going into his own home. This incident even made it to President Obama.

Second, in view of 911, many Muslims are also a target of race discrimination. Just last month, the New York City police department was called into question for monitoring Muslim students from many top college campuses. This has caused an uproar among Muslim Americans. In addition, there was a recent report saying that there are spies on our college campuses as well. This leads to more surveillance of Muslims and some Chinese students. 

Finally, the whole Trevon Martin case shows racism. The very fact that Zimmerman was not arrested shows that something is broken. 

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