Public Opinion of Police by Different Ethnic Groups
Cooperation from members of the public is important in order for police officers to effectively fight crime within the community. In order to obtain cooperation from members of the public, police officers must gain their trust and confidence. It has been known that African Americans and Hispanics have lower levels of trust and confidence in police because of racial disparities and racial profiling. This paper will discuss the public opinion of police by different ethnic groups and how racial minorities hold lower levels of trust and confidence in police. The paper will further discuss the November 5, 1992 Detroit Police beating of Malice Green and how members of the community perceived police response after the beating. Express your opinion on the topic
African Americans and Hispanics have lower levels of trust and confidence in police because of racial disparities and racial profiling. Research has also shown that lower-income African Americans hold negative views of police in general. Cooperation from individuals within the community comes from gaining trust and confidence within the police (Tyler, 2005). The public is more willing to cooperate with police when trust and confidence is at a higher rate (Tyler, 2005). If members of the community do not trust the police system, then they will not use it (Tyler, 2005). Research has shown that Whites and minorities help police in three different ways. The first is by reporting crimes and criminals (Tyler, 2005). The second is by working within their neighborhood to fight crime (Tyler, 2005). And the third is by supporting the disbursement of public resources to the police (Tyler, 2005). In 2002, 1,653 New Yorkers were surveyed in regards to the NYPD and policing activities in their neighborhood. Survey questions
included: 1.) “How likely would you be to call the police to report a crime that was occurring in your neighborhood?” 2.) “How likely would you be to help the police to find someone suspected of committing a crime by providing them with information?” and 3.)
“How likely would you be to report dangerous or suspicious activities in your neighborhood to the police?” (Tyler, 2005) The survey also asked how often the police “use ethnic slurs against people in your neighborhood,” “treat people disrespectfully because of their race,” “abuse people physically because of their race,” and “bully or intimidate people because of their race?” (Tyler, 2005) Results from the study indicated that respondents who were White had higher levels of trust and confidence in police than minorities (Tyler, 2005). Hispanics confidence in police was intermediate of Whites and Blacks (Tyler, 2005). Racial profiling has been a hot topic recently and has influenced citizen’s perceptions of police. Minorities that been stopped due to racial profiling are more willing to voice their dissatisfaction with the police. Minorities who have not been racially profiled but hear stories about racial profiling may be more skeptical of future experiences with police. Research has found that minorities tend to rate officer legitimacy in a more objective manor when stopped by a minority officer (Tyler, 2005). Minorities that are stopped by White officers tend to be more skeptical of the officer behavior (Tyler, 2005). African Americans are the most skeptical of police behavior and especially believe they are treated unfairly when a White officer stops them (Tyler, 2005). Police officers race could be an important factor in improving citizen and officer relations.
Having a diverse law enforcement agency can help better develop relationships within the community as well as build trust and confidence, and assist in effective policing by encouraging support and cooperation from citizens of the community. Understanding how officer race can influence the perceptions of police by minorities is very important in today’s society because police organizations have increasingly received complaints for targeting minority drivers during traffic stops (Cochran, Warren, 2012). It has been known that racial profiling is mostly associated with White officers. Data taken from the 2005 Police Public Contact Survey indicated that Black males and females negatively evaluated police behavior when stopped by a White officer, even if the officer provided a good reason to stop them (Cochran, Warren, 2012). If the officer is a minority, the response received was completely opposite (Cochran, Warren, 2012). With that being said, minority citizens who are stopped by a minority officer rate officer legitimately more objectively than if stopped by a White officer (Cochran, Warren, 2012). Research also showed that African Americans have a higher propensity for viewing police behavior as well as the justice systems illegitimate (Cochran, Warren, 2012).
Findings in regards to skepticism of police by Hispanic males and females came up invalid. Therefore suggesting that the rift between police and citizens is focused within African American communities (Cochran, Warren, 2012). Include at least one contemporary event as an example to illustrate the main points On November 5, 1992, six white officers and one black supervising officer of the Detroit Police Department had repeatedly punched, kicked, and bludgeoned Malice Green, a Detroit African American resident, who later died because of the injuries (Sigleman, Welch, Bledsoe, & Combs, 1997). Mr. Green’s death was ruled as a homicide by “blunt force trauma to the head.” All seven of the officers were suspended.
The media coverage was so intense and focused, therefore fostering an image of police as antagonistic or unresponsive to African Americans (Sigleman, Welch, Bledsoe, & Combs, 1997). In July 1992 and November 1992, the Wayne State University Center for Urban Studies completed an in-home interview with 1,124 residents in the Detroit area. The survey-contained questions pertaining to the perceptions of how Blacks were treated by police and how quickly did they respond to your calls for help. Results showed that Blacks were more skeptical than whites were on police response to calls for help (Sigleman, Welch, Bledsoe, & Combs, 1997). Blacks were also more suspicious that police would abuse powers during traffic stops (Sigleman, Welch, Bledsoe, & Combs, 1997). Conclusion
Research has shown African Americans express the lowest levels of trust within police whereas Whites express the highest level of trust within police and Hispanics are in the middle (Tyler, 2005). Research has also shown that the public is more willing to cooperate with police when trust and confidence is at a higher rate (Tyler, 2005). If members of the community do not trust the police system, then they will not use it (Tyler, 2005). Research has further shown that minority citizens who are stopped by a minority officers rate officer legitimately more objectively than if stopped by a White officer (Tyler, 2005).
Cochran, J. C., & Warren, P. Y. (2012, May). Racial, Ethnic, and Gender Differences in Perceptions of the Police. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, 28(2), 206-227. Sigelman, L., Welch, S., Bledsoe, T., & Combs, M., (1997, December). Police Brutality and Public Perceptions of Racial Discrimination: A Tale of Two Beatings. Political Research Quarterly, 50(4), 777-791. Tyler, T. R. (2005, September). Policing in Black and White: Ethnic Group Differences in Trust and Confidence in the Police. Police Quarterly, 8(3), 322-342.