Police racial discrimination has been a disconcerting and a long challenge across the world. The issues of racially biased policing are more evident in the United States. Police racial discrimination is prevalent across cities and states in the United States. Police racial discrimination involves use of an individual’s ethnicity or race by law enforcement agencies and personnel as a key factor to consider when making decisions on whether to engage in enforcement. This is mainly evident when making an arrest or a traffic stop.
Police racial discrimination is an illegal and controversial in many jurisdictions. This may also refer to a police making a decision whether to enforce the law on basis of nationality, ethnicity or race instead of using the behaviours or information that prove an individual has engaged in an unlawful activity. The issue of police racial discrimination dated back to slavery. This is when courts gave police officers authority to arrest and detain Negro who was seen in the streets.
More emphasis has been placed on background, and on hiring of more trained police personnel and penalties to end racially biased policing across the world. Over years, human right commissions have campaigned for equality despite the skin color. They urge that every individual should have equal rights with others regardless of nationality, race or ethnicity. Police racial discrimination is overlooked by many law enforcement agencies internationally. This is because it is highly embedded in the police culture; in fact is almost second nature to them. Most police officers perhaps do not even perceive what they practice is police racial discrimination, however, when the conduct arrests and traffic stops based on race and ethnicity is actually, racially biased policing.
Over the years, police racial discrimination has become a major discussion especially among the human right commissions and the law enforcement agencies across the world. Many countries have made considerable effort in studying police racial discrimination and ascertain how ethnicity and race plays a vital role in stopping traffic by the officers in their jurisdictions. This research paper seeks to provide a literature review which examines the argument of police racial discrimination as practiced by police agencies worldwide. This paper will also seek to provide preventive measures based on the theories and techniques on etiology. The determination of whether race and ethnicity is an important factor in the likelihood of being stopped or arrested by law enforcement is the purpose of this research.
A review of the literature on police racial discrimination
According to Chan (2011), police racial discrimination involves subjecting the citizens to increased scrutiny based on race and ethnicity rather than reasonable suspicion. Police racial discrimination may mean racial profiling in the police agencies. Police racial discrimination results to inequality to certain groups in the society especially the minority. According to Chan (2011), police racial discrimination results to a feeling of harassment or alienation from the legal system in the country an in the wider society. Negative perception toward police racial discrimination can cause a particular ethnic group to loss confidence in police agencies (Nier et al, 2012). A good example of an incidence of police racial discrimination is in United State where African Americans are arrested and stopped in the traffic on basis of their skin color.
Determining whether the Africa Americans are subject to police discrimination because of their race is an effective discussion that enables to examine African American experience in their day to day life. According to research, public opinions indicate that the white Americans in the police agencies no longer openly endorse an explicitly racist ideology. According to Chan (2011), the extent of police discrimination by the public is undefined. Despite continued practice of racial discrimination in police agencies, both morality and law in many countries discourage police racial discrimination. However, incidences of police racial discrimination are evident in some countries where the law enforcement mainly targets the blacks (Nier et al, 2012).
According to Oakley et al (2008), in order to come up with a long lasting solution for police racial discrimination, it is important to determine whether such discriminatory practices are as a result of police officers being racially biased or they are unintended outcomes of specific organizational practices. In practice, police racial discrimination is hard to prove. According to Nier et al (2012), racial discrimination in police agencies can manifest itself in three mechanisms. These include, stereotyping and cognitive bias, prejudice and through race based deployment.
Cognitive and stereotyping discrimination involves discrimination based on certain assumption of criminality of an ethnic group (Chan, 2011). On the other hand, race, based deployment involves a local or organizational practice that may or may not involve individual’s intention consciousness.
Prejudice in police discrimination entail conscious aim. According to Rosich & Katherine (2007), there is vast research that indicates that street level police often use stereotypical reasons about the criminality of a certain ethnic group and employ such cues in their duties of police work hence fueling the issue of police racial discrimination. Elimination of racial discrimination in police agencies have been a challenge due to their culture and solidarity (Chan, 2011). This is because police offers does not take the responsibility of reporting colleagues with misconduct for instance the one who practice racism in their line of duty.
According to Oakley et al (2008), research on police racial discrimination recommend adoption of organizational initiatives such as education and training police officers and having explicit policies of not allowing racial discrimination. In addition, this will also entail monitoring officer’s conducts and coming up with concrete decisions of curbing the trend. According to Chan (2011), responsible options must be put in place in order to eliminate racial inequality among all. Chan suggests that hiring closer surveillance on everyone; more police officers and not just minority are among viable alternatives. In addition, to eliminate police discrimination, there is need to have positive attitude about nation’s diversity (Nier et al, 2012). This will be vital, as it will ensure individuals understand how prejudice, racial and privilege affects individuals and groups in the society and make considerable effort to know other races.
There should be initiation of constructive discussion about the issue of race and ethnicity in the schools, workplaces and other training institutions. Additionally, creation of institutions that advocate for racial inclusion is necessary to ensure elimination of this challenge. Introduction of reforms in the police agencies that seeks to eliminate police racial discrimination as essential as they will ensure and give a good picture of the police agencies to the citizens (Chan, 2011).
Racial discrimination is against the good police practices. This type of conduct is increasingly termed as ‘racial profiling’ by the public. Throughout police training, they undergo excellent training which teaches them how best to perform their duties without any form of discrimination. The policies established articulate how police should conduct their duties with a lot of diligence and integrity in order to uphold human dignity (Bowman-Kruhm & Wirths, 2000). The law is clear on this matter because it does not allow selective enforcement of laws or judgment of people according to their race, color, ethnicity among others. Police are expected to promote fairness and equality to all citizens without practicing any form of discrimination.
Racial profiling has created a lot of biasness on how police discriminates people in relation to their race. One major disadvantage of race discrimination is Police brutality (Goldhaber, 2009). This practice is exercised to the minority communities which disadvantages them.
Police brutality can be defined as excessive use of force which exceeds that required to maintain law and order. This brutality can be termed as unlawful act because the law articulates that human beings should be handled appropriately with due respect. Peffley and Hurwitz (2010), gives an example of about 89% of individual who died in custody as a result of police brutality which was attributed to racial discrimination. Police racial discrimination is a major challenge facing the whole force. Notably, citizens who come from minority tribes are frequently stopped by police as compared to white citizens. This argument affirms that police discrimination can lead to brutality.
Police brutality is one of the major examples of police misconduct. Regardless of whatever the situation police are not expected to favor of discriminate any person in relation to their race. Police using reasonable force is any accomplishment that is fair, correct, just, judicious or suitable under the unusual circumstances is accepted by law.
Unfortunately, due to racial discrimination some police go behold this and use excessive force to individual whom they dislike (Nier et al, 2012). For instance American police use excessive force when dealing with African American individual. This scenario portrays police biasness in handling some individual considered as minority groups. Police are also referred by citizens as deadly force and these show high levels of their brutality (Peffley & Hurwitz, 2010). This act can be termed as direct race discrimination as police treat some people less favorably than they treat others in the same circumstances, because of race. As a matter of fact, racist abuse and police harassment and brutality are forms of direct discrimination based on an individual race.
Police in their profession, have guiding rules which they are supposed to follow called the use of force continuum. They are obligated to conduct themselves in such a way they are supposed to protect and offer justice to all people equally (Nier et al, 2012). Force continuum concept sets the level of power considered to be suitable in direct response to a subject’s behavior. A good example of police discrimination is the case which Rodney King who was an African America. Rodney King in 1931 he was arrested with allegation for over speeding (Nazel, 1993). Currently, Police Racial Discrimination has become a matter of concern among the public in general. This act is underpinning their freedom of equality because under the law no race that is superior to another.
Racial profiling is discussed as discrimination whereby the enforcers of the law mostly the police officers uses the culture background or race as the key reason in order to suspect that the person when several African drivers complained that the traffic police harass them for no apparent reason rather than their race, ethnicity and their backgrounds. For example it is clearly noted that even Arab Americans undergo racial profiling especially on the attacks of September eleventh attacks by terrorists (Gounev, 2006). Since the terror attackers were said to be Arabs the Arabs in America complained that they were harassed at the airports and other given locations while the Americans were just given right and proper treatments. This is described as racial profiling and it causes traumas and damages to the people imposed to it.
This is one form of racial discrimination which is not accepted according to the American laws and constitution in which democracy is clearly violated. People still believe that people’s ancestral origins make them more privileged than others. This is termed as prejudice since people are making the wrong suspicions, judgments and conclusions (Peffley & Hurwitz, 2010). Prejudice in most cases leads to psychological, emotional and mental traumas as well as the discrimination of races.
Effects of police discrimination
It is evident that racial profiling has direct consequences the involved individuals. Police discrimination inconveniences and harms a lot of people. This act is real and act those involves by either denying them their due justice or on contrary treating them badly. Causes of racial profiling might be diverge by its results are so demoralizing. Individuals who experience police profiling incident pay the price emotionally, psychologically and mentally. Police discrimination ignores psychological and social status of the involved individual. Apparently, police discrimination extends beyond those directly involved to other people such as family members and friends among others (Prenzler, 2009).
Police discrimination is a harmful act hence citing reasons why it is important to address means of combating it. One major of police discrimination is that it is compromising the future. Many victims of police profiling are the young people and children. On higher tone, the cons sequences associated with parents involved in police discrimination are directly transferred to their children (Seltzer, & Johnson, 2009). This can be termed as a threat to children psychology which alters their mental development rate. Racial profiling on their children can facilitate them to develop some anti-social behavior which might even impact their school performance. This act has possibility of causing long term long-term impact hence compromising on the future of the children (Prenzler, 2009).
Police force is guided by code of ethics which should be adhered to. Trust, ethics and good morals are the key aspects which should define the police force. Police discrimination faces a lot of mistrust forcing the public to lose faith with the institution. The police and the public are required to work closely work each other. There is need for the public to have confidence with police such that there is fairness in the work of this vital institution (Seltzer, & Johnson, 2009). Mistrust resulting to police discrimination is harmful to credibility of this institution. Notably, the issue of mistrust among the police is not just explicit to one community but permeates across all sectors of society.
Theories and techniques on prevention
Police profiling has been recorded to be on high increase hence citing immediate need to address this issues. Police discrimination has led to lack of trust and credibility to the police force and in result has compromised the security measures of the citizens. Equity should be maintained under the law since it is the cornerstone of human rights. All citizens despite their ethnicity or color should be treated without any discrimination (Prenzler & Ransley, 2002).
Police profiling is a major threat to freedom, justice and peace in the modern world. Profiling is illegal under the law because it undermines people from being treated equally. Many human right groups have raised their concern about this issue because it undermines their right of equal treatment. In order to address this issue many mechanisms have been established with hope they will solve police discrimination (Gounev, 2006).
Many rules and policies have been put in place to address both discrimination and harassment in the force. Police have gone under sufficient training in order to educate them on the disadvantages of practicing police policing. Police are also expected to maintain high levels of discipline whenever performing their duties. Accused officers found guilty of practicing police discrimination are punished heavily, to serve as a warning to others (Prenzler & Ransley, 2002). Besides, the above discussed prevention techniques that are also other ways useful to address police discrimination issue.
Focusing on the settings of the crimes
Preventers of the crime should focus more on the settings of the various crimes rather than focusing on the people causing the crime. To be put into consideration also is the number of times the crime has occurred. This is done as an attempt to reduce the criminal rates. Crime prevention should be well maintained in schools, hospitals, shops, malls, and entertainment facilities, recreational places like parks and also in the public offices (Gounev, 2006). These are places mostly prone to crimes and should be in tight security if crime is to be avoided. The police should cooperate with the general public so as to identify the origins and settings of the crime.
Putting up of surveillance cameras
These are cameras places in various buildings and parking places all over America. They act as forms of crime prevention since the cameras can show who were involved in the crime and the time that particular crime occurred. The cameras are mostly placed on electronic shops, parking places, various apartments and individual housing, public housings, different festivals, sporting places and various warehousing and retail stores (Gounev, 2006).
Practicing situational prevention
This is a practice whereby the people should learn that most offenders are specialists in committing crime and there the security agencies should be careful since most offenders have prior knowledge about crimes. It is true to say that almost everybody commits crimes depending on the circumstances one can get into. Thus in this it is clear to suggest that all people should avoid and prevent unnecessary crime (Oakley, Danflous, European Dialogue, 2008).
Social control mechanisms
Social control in sociology is defined as the various political and society’s processes which contribute to the regulation of peoples and group behavior in order to gain fulfillment to the given rules in either the society, state or group (Chriss, 2007).There exist two types of social control namely formal and informal means of social control which are the means used to place social control to a given individual. The social controls are believed to regulate the behavior of people more greatly than even the given rules and laws by the government. In prevention and controlling crime formal and informal methods are used.
From the above discussion, it is evident that racial discrimination is against the good police practices. Racial profiling has direct consequences the involved individuals. Police racial discrimination has been a disconcerting and a long challenge across the world. The issues of racially biased policing are more evident in the United States. Police racial discrimination is prevalent across cities and states in the United States. Police force is guided by code of ethics which should be adhered to at all times. Trust, ethics and good morals are the key aspects which should define the police force. Police discrimination faces a lot of mistrust forcing the public to lose faith with the institution. Police profiling is a major threat to freedom, justice and peace in the modern world hence citing the need to come up with proper measures to address it.
- Bowman-Kruhm, M., & Wirths, C. G. (2000). Coping with discrimination and prejudice. New York: Rosen Pub. Group.
- Chan, J. (2011). Racial Profiling and Police Subculture. Canadian Journal Of Criminology & Criminal Justice, 53(1), 75-78.
- Chriss, J. J. (2007). Social control: An introduction. Cambridge [u.a.: Polity.
- Cleary, J. (2000). Racial Profiling Studies in Law Enforcement: Issues and Methodology.
- Glover, K. S. (2009). Racial profiling: Research, racism, and resistance. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield.