When police are making decisions to arrest juveniles suspected of violating law do they take race into account? explain

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is entirely up to each individual to choose how to bring out their personal criteria when exercising an action against or in favor of someone else. Unfortunately, only raw, longitudinal and phenomenological data can be used in a court of law as potential evidence that proves whether a police department is deliberately making arrest choices based on racial profiling. Other than that, it is all left out to reasonable doubt. Ever since the atrocious court rulings in favor of the LAPD officers who used excessive force on Rodney King in 1992, and the riots that ensued, the public opinion has been that the police force has a tendency to use racial profiling to make arrests.

However, defense attorneys who protect police officers accused of racial profiling often use the term STATISTICAL DISCRIMINATION as a mitigating factor that would establish reasonable doubt on the jury, thus safeguarding the reputation of the police.

In Moro (2003) "The effect of statistical discrimination on black-white wage inequality: estimating a model with multiple equilibria", this type of discrimination is described as a theory that explains inequality based on aggregate group characteristics. The characteristics exhibited by a group may or may not be filtered through racial bias, but out of the personal experiences of the particular police officer with members of a specific group.

Theoretically, the way that people average other people is by proxy variables that have surfaced throughout their lives as they interact with one another. For example, a police officer who makes constantly dangerous arrests at the Sherwood Arms Apartment Complex will forge an image of the residents of the complex that will undoubtedly be different than that of the Lincoln Park apartment complex, where there most that ever happens is petty theft or petty quarrels.

Hence, group-level statistics are used as a proxy for individual variables. Those who belong to "the bad boy club", will be collectively judged as such and no matter what anyone in that club does well, he will be always labeled as one of them. This is where the gray area of discrimination is smeared with doubt.

According to the CATO institute of police harassment and misconduct, the highest complaint comes from excessive force particularly in the U.S West coast

Of all 1,575 officers involved in reported excessive force complaints, 897 (56.9%) were involved in cases of physical use of force complaints... 232 officers (14.7%) were involved in firearm-related excessive force complaints, 166 (10.6%) were involved in taser-related cases, and the remaining officers were involved in other cases involving a combination of force types (13.21%).

These reports cite misconduct but does not necessarily pinpoint a correlation between excessive force, misconduct and racial profiling. Hence, we need to consider all the other variables discussed in order to make a final decision on whether the police engages in this type of behavior. For that reason, it is imperative to judge each situation individually.