In the recent years, biased policing has been the area of major concern for many scholars of law enactment and implementation policies. Police officers have been largely criticized for majorly targeting the poor and the minority neighborhoods. In fact, a recent empirical quest has revealed that the police treated certain minority citizens for instance, Hispanics and Blacks much differently compared to the majority neighborhoods (whites) in the US (Pierce et al, 2004). Other researches add that, once stopped, the Hispanic and Black drivers are more likely to be searched and detained than the whites (Calnon & Engel, 2004).
However, it is very unfair for the police officers, as law enforcers, to focus their energies only on the poor and the minority neighborhoods. For instance, it is illogical and illegal for a police officer to harass and arrest a black in the streets for suspicion of committing a crime while his white counterpart is freed simply because the whites are considered more compliant even though they were both caught in the crime scene. It is not agreeable that the policing duty be stained with presumptive judgments in regards to the identification of the executors of a particular crime simply due to their diversities in race, culture and faith. This is because mistakes are to humans and the whites who are considered as the majority group are likely to err just like their black compatriots.
Studies on municipal police forces, federal agencies, county police, highway patrols and sheriff’s departments reflect similar inequalities in the treatment of Hispanic and Blacks as compared to their white compatriots. In fact, Alpert Group (2004) proposed that Black drivers were more likely to be police targets of suspicion. However, based on individuals’ personalities and differences, these assumptions and generalizations are unwarranted and uncalled for because this leads to unconscionable racial profiling that has been lately eradicated from the policing policies. The height of racism in policing was shocking due the fact that when the Black officers were first recruited, they lacked the authority to arrest the Whites and were assigned to arrest their Black neighbors. Moreover, in certain cities of America, White officers were segregated from their Black counterparts (Murphy & Williams, 1990). It is therefore unjust to consider a given minority as guilty and the majority as always innocent as far as justice is concerned.
Justice can never be achieved when the law enforcers (police officers) fail to practice free and fair methods of arrests regardless of the suspect’s ethnicity, tribe, race and culture. Most importantly, the police officers should cease targeting the minority group and work collectively to eradicate crimes by fairly arresting and charging their victims irrespective of their socio-economic backgrounds. This will help reduce the drift between the minority and the majority groups in a given country, increase the levels of citizens’ loyalty to their country, and boost the harmonious relationships amongst the citizens. Furthermore, it is a form of discrimination by the police officers when they keep focusing just on the minority neighbors as if the majority neighbors cannot break their policies. For instance, Harris (2002) explained that the police believed that racial minorities were not fully involved in the drug crime during the late 1980s though it was erroneously perceived to be so.
The general perception by the police that the minority neighbors are the major breakers of the law is, to some extend, acceptable. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI] (2003), 48.5% of Blacks were arrested for negligent manslaughter and murder even though they were only 13% of the US population. This confirms that Blacks inarguably dominate the criminology profile. However, this fact should not be used to attest that all of them deserve to be treated with the hostility they receive from the police officers. Harris (2002) advises that, at times, for specific offenses, the earlier perceptions might be true but in some cases, the believes by the police officers may only reflect their faults and their racial nature. The minority citizens requires fair and just treatment like their majority counterparts though, due to the notion the police officers have towards them, they often succumb to higher levels of scrutiny, interrogations and search rates especially on a crime scene. For instance, Black drivers were stopped and searched much more frequently than their White counterparts along the I-95 corridor through Maryland, US from January 1995 to September 1996 (Lamberth, 1997). In the current policing structure, the Whites would highly benefit from the expansion of the death penalty legislation since the police officers hardly connects them with crimes however, the minority neighbors would largely suffer from this rule since many of them are deemed guilty even before committing any crime.
Since this problem is highly psychological, the police officers are urged to respond in a scholarly way to these racial issues by identifying with an individual, notwithstanding his background, to eradicate biasness and abandon prejudicial beliefs and attitudes towards the minority neighborhood. The police officers should base their judgments on the individual’s immediate mistakes that are not in line with the stipulated rules rather than a notion about the accused background.
Alpert Group. (2004). Miami–Dade Racial Profiling Study. Columbia, SC: Author.
Calnon, J., & Engel, R. (2004). Examining the influence of driver’s characteristics during traffic stops with police: Results from a national survey. Justice Quarterly. (21) 702-742.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). (2003). Crime in the United States. Washington, DC: Author.
Harris, D. A. (2002). Profiles in injustice. New York: New Press.
Lamberth, J. D. (1997). Report of John Lamberth, Ph.D. Unpublished report, American Civil Liberties Union, Washington, DC.
Murphy, P. V., & Williams, H. (1990). The evolving strategy of police: A minority view (13th paper in the “Perspectives on Policing” series). Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice.
Pierce, E., Farrell, A., McDevitt, J., Bailey, L., & Andresen, C. (2004). Massachusetts Racial and Gender Profiling Study. Boston: Northeastern University Institute on Race and Justice. Web.