Officers are in a Lose/Lose situation when it comes to their interaction with the black community
Police officers have a responsibility of enforcing the law, observing professional and ethical codes of conduct, and protecting the citizens without discrimination. However, there are divergent views amongst Americans on the behaviors of the law enforcement officers and the way they carry out their duties. They find themselves on the losing end when analyzed from the Black communitys point of view because of the blames against them. The Blacks believe that police officers are always harsh to them in comparison to the whites, a situation that makes them dissatisfied with the police department. The police suffer from negative perceptions from the minority groups than the Whites but less has been documented to explain the cause of such differences. Race may be one of the influential factors that trigger negative attitudes of the Blacks to the police, but it should be noted that there are also police officers from the minority groups. Even if there are other minority groups in America such as the Hispanics, little is known about their attitudes to the police, allowing us to have an extensive study and arguments to determine the source of this negative perception. The paper will be focused on the causes and effects of the stance that the African Americans have towards the law enforcement officers as it is not considered right.
The law enforcement officers work without discrimination, and this point can be supported by the presence of Blacks in the forces. The negative perception that African Americans have towards the police can be attributed to their relatively fewer numbers than the Whites, meaning that they still feel discriminated in representation in the forces (Tuch 305). It is important to the department of police to recruit evenly and consider the racial of the minority groups to that of the Majority and ensure that it has reflected in the police numbers. However, even if that will be done, the inner feelings that the Blacks still have towards the police will not cease. Another issue that makes the Blacks have a negative perception towards the police is the media. The officers have a significant role to play in the society, and if the media exposes them as people who believes in discriminatory practices, then the Black community will consistently hate and have a negative perception of them. The media should be supportive of the police and encourage the Black community to assist the officers in enforcing the law.
The police may act differently depending on circumstances, but it is on rare occasions or otherwise nil that the media has reported police plurality towards the Whites. Does it mean that the Whites always obey the law, and the Blacks are on the wrong side? Or is it that the Blacks do not understand the law of the land? The issue here is that the media should be at the forefront in reporting the good deeds of the police and the importance of being supportive for them to carry effectively out their duties. Once an incident has occurred involving the police and the Black community, the media focuses on the actions of the officers instead of the root course of their activities. It is not right for the Black community to have a negative perception towards the police because they are doing their work professionally, only that the media is always in the forefront in influencing them to regard the officers as enemies (Braga et al. 600). Additionally, selective media coverage of police misconduct and cases of corruption increases the negative views to the general populace, an addition to the differences that the Blacks have towards them makes matters even worse.
The majority of Americans believe that the police are guilty of brutal behaviors in the execution of their duties. However, the figure is even higher when considering the Black communitys perception. A small number of Whites fear that in one instance, the police will arrest them while in the streets even if they have not committed any crime (Davis, Robert, Safe, and United States of America 1). Through the analysis, it can be seen that the relations between the Black community and police has been in existence, and this may adversely impact them in the future. For instance, the citizens may eventually lose hope of the police and consider it unnecessary to assist or cooperate with them in the execution of their duties. Irrespective of ones origin or ethnic background, it is necessary to have good relations with the police for their safety, other citizens and maintain a good public image of the country to the outside world.
Police officers are mostly White because of the gap between the minority and majority population. However, the Blacks do not factor this idea before complaining of their representation, leading to animosity and mistrust. The issue can, however, be used to justify their complaints. For instance, given that the Whites have significant numbers in the police force, there is a high chance that a few of them exercises discriminatory practices when executing their duties. During police recruitment, it may not be possible to determine individuals who consider Blacks as people who are inferior or should not be even in America. As a result, such individuals are recruited to the police department, and they end up exercising their unethical racial discrimination while on duty (Davis, Robert, Safe, and United States of America 3). However, the minority group should not be too selective in this issue, generalize and develop a negative attitude towards the police. What about the many officers who believe in equality either on or off duty? Does it mean that they should also turn to be discriminative to balance the equation? This will even worsen the situation. The Black community should, therefore, assist the police department in identifying those officers who do not observe their professional codes of conduct instead of blaming them and complaining behind bars. It is not necessary for them to wait until an adverse situation has occurred for them to riot as was the case of Rodney King, a taxi driver.
The black community is always in the forefront in complaining of racial discrimination in America because they believe that they are not well represented in governance and the provision of social services. Additionally, they have the belief that the police and judicial departments favor the Whites in several occasions. From a neutral point of view, this may not be true, and the Black community may be the one that believes in racial discrimination, only that they do not have that opportunity to exercise it. There is no way that one can be complaining about something that he/she doesnt understand. Their complaints may be justified, but it is time for them to speak out in order to be heard. They should work hard and ensure that they have achieved their lifetime goals instead of complaining about the police, who are in any case on duty. The police department should implement complaint review process that is accessible to the populace with an attempt of trying to inspire them to take bold decisions of reporting any unethical behavior (Brunson 71). The process can also help in developing trust amongst the Black community towards the police and increase their levels of satisfaction.
America has been experiencing increment in the number of immigrants from Africa in the recent times. As a result, it may become a bit difficult to fight crime in areas that are populated by the immigrants due to a number of reasons. For instance, such immigrants are not native English speakers and may find it difficult to cope up with the new environment immediately. Once confronted by the police, they end up panicking and cannot even communicate effectively. Language barrier as a result may make the police think that they are either guilty or rude; leading to their arrest even though they are innocent. Additionally, the American police officers may be victims of circumstances (Davis, Robert, Safe, and United States of America 7). It may happen that some of the immigrants have negative experiences with the police from their native countries and carry that perception to America. Also, because of language barrier, they may not receive communication on community policing or understand such messages from the media to the same level just like the White community. As a result, they fall victims in the hands of the police. The Black community should factor in this information before considering shifting the blame to the law enforcement officers, who in the real sense are doing what is expected of them and ensuring that they have protected the community from criminal activities.
The Whites and Blacks have divergent perceptions when it comes to the roles of the police and even the criminal justice system because the officers have direct links with the judiciary. They are the ones to make an arrest and at some instances act as witnesses. There exist some doubts that the blacks are not treated well by the police officers and this can be supported by the recent instances such as the Ferguson killings of unarmed black men and those of New York City. One out of ten black men agree that the police officers practice equality while on duty while the rest believe that so long as one comes from the minority group, there are high chances that he/she will be arrested at one point by the police. In contrast, majority of the White community believe that the police officers observe their professional codes of conduct while on duty (Dan and Clement). These contradicting perceptions means that there is some hidden reality that makes the black community consider the police officers as individuals who are oppressive towards them. The minorities should be confident enough and understand that police officers have undergone training, understands what they are doing and if incase some of them violates their professional codes of conduct, it should not just be concluded that they are all brutal. From this point, it can clearly be seen that this issue is a controversy that needs to be scrutinized in the bid of trying to understand if there is a hidden reason as to why the Black community have a negative perception towards the police.
Braga, Anthony A., et al. "The Salience of Social Contextual Factors in Appraisals of Police Interactions with Citizens: A Randomized Factorial Experiment." Journal of Quantitative Criminology 30.4 (2014): 599-627.
Brunson, Rod K. "police don't like black people: AfricanAmerican young men's accumulated police experiences." Criminology & Public Policy 6.1 (2011): 71-101.
Dan, Balz, and Scott Clement. "On Racial Issues, America is Divided Both Black and White and Red and Blue - The Washington Post." Washington Post. N.p., 27 Dec. 2014. Web. 1 Dec. 2015.
Davis, Robert Carl, Safe Horizon, and the United States of America. Perceptions of the Police Among Members of Six Ethnic Communities in Central Queens, NY: Executive Summary. Safe Horizon, 2010.
Tuch, Steven A. "Race and perceptions of police misconduct." Social Problems 51.3 (2011): 305-325.
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