Race, Ethnicity, and Policing
New and Essential Readings
Publication Year: 2010
“This timely volume brings together the leading scholars on the topic of race, ethnicity and policing in one collection. The selections provide a solid, evidence based treatment of the key criminal justice issue of our time.”
Published by: NYU Press
Download PDF (83.3 KB)
Download PDF (82.2 KB)
I was a brand-new assistant professor at the Pennsylvania State University (PSU) in the fall of 1998. Sometime during those first few months, a high-ranking official from the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) whom I happened to meet casually asked me what I knew about racial profiling. My reply was honest: “Not much.” It was through this...
Download PDF (53.8 KB)
Irrespective of limitations in the perspectives employed in extant scholarship (e.g., criminological, legalistic, economic), methodological shortcomings in assessing police profiling and bias (e.g., determining benchmarks, or “denominators”), or arguments regarding the appropriate framing of deeply felt cultural subtexts (e.g., Amadou Diallo, the Jena Six, Sean...
PART I: The Context
Introduction to Part I
Download PDF (65.9 KB)
The following section is foundational: it provides the criminological, sociological, social-psychological, and legal lens through which to better understand the theoretical basis and empirical examination of race, ethnicity, and policing. The section also provides the reader with a conceptual road map to better “place” the methodological advancements and controversies...
1. A Sketch of the Policeman’s Working Personality
Download PDF (148.5 KB)
A recurrent theme of the sociology of occupations is the effect of a man’s work on his outlook on the world.1 Doctors, janitors, lawyers, and industrial workers develop distinctive ways of perceiving and responding to their environment. Here we shall concentrate on analyzing certain outstanding elements in the police milieu, danger, authority, and efficiency...
2. Driving While Black: A Statistician Proves That Prejudice Still Rules the Road
Download PDF (67.3 KB)
In 1993, I was contacted by attorneys whose clients had been arrested on the New Jersey Turnpike for possession of drugs. They told me they had come across 25 African American defendants over a three-year period all arrested on the same stretch of turnpike in Gloucester County, but not a single white defendant. I was asked whether, and how much...
3. The Stories, the Statistics, and the Law: Why “Driving While Black” Matters
Download PDF (395.2 KB)
It has happened to actors Wesley Snipes, Will Smith, Blair Underwood, and LeVar Burton. It has also happened to football player Marcus Allen, and Olympic athletes Al Joyner and Edwin Moses. African Americans call it “driving while black”—police officers stopping, questioning, and even searching black drivers who have committed no crime, based on...
4. Legitimacy and Cooperation: Why Do People Help the Police Fight Crime in Their Communities?
Download PDF (306.6 KB)
To be effective in lowering crime and creating secure communities, the police must be able to elicit cooperation from community residents. Security cannot be produced by either the police or community residents acting alone—it requires cooperation. Such cooperation potentially involves, on the part of the public, both obeying the law1 and working...
5. Race and Policing in Different Ecological Contexts
Download PDF (199.0 KB)
A recent trend in policing research is its focus on ecological context. Demographic factors continue to be studied, but the literature is no longer confined to assessing the influence of individual-level variables on either officer behavior or citizens’ perceptions of the police. Scholars are increasingly realizing that place matters. This chapter examines current...
6. Racially Biased Policing: A Review of the Judicial and Legislative Literature
Download PDF (303.5 KB)
Though hotly debated in the attempts to empirically measure the existence (or not) of unwarranted use of race in law enforcement practices, such a definition, in operation, runs directly counter to the highly personal nature of constitutional rights embedded in the United States Constitution’s Bill of Rights and Fourteenth Amendment...
PART II: The Methods
Introduction to Part II
Download PDF (60.8 KB)
This section introduces the reader to the most common methods used to study issues related to race/ethnicity, bias, and policing. There are two overriding themes from the chapters in this section. First, there is no single best method to be used in the study of race/ethnicity, bias, and policing. The chapters by Ridgeway and MacDonald, and Paulhamus...
7. Methods for Assessing Racially Biased Policing
Download PDF (250.1 KB)
Over the past ten years there has been a proliferation of research that has attempted to estimate the level of racial bias in police behavior. Many police agencies now mandate that their officers record official contacts made with citizens during routine traffic or pedestrian stops. These administrative data sources typically include a host of information...
8. Using Geographic Information Systems to Study Race, Crime, and Policing
Download PDF (241.5 KB)
Recently, the relationships between space (in the ecological or geographical sense) and other social phenomena have benefitted from advancements of powerful technologies that put new analytical methods into the hands of researchers and practitioners alike. In particular, GIS (Geographic Information Systems) has become indispensible in the study of policing...
9. Beyond Stop Rates: Using Qualitative Methods to Examine Racially Biased Policing
Download PDF (160.6 KB)
Most of the research on citizens’ perceptions of and experiences with police has been based on surveys or official data. In addition, these studies have typically focused on discrete, one-time encounters rather than cumulative measures of police-citizen contacts. And while these investigations have highlighted the importance of race and age differences...
10. State of the Science in Racial Profiling Research: Substantive and Methodological Considerations
Download PDF (195.0 KB)
Within the academic conceptualization of racial profiling, there are myriad nuanced ambiguities, such as “hard profiling” (the use of only race or ethnicity in a decision to stop a citizen) and “soft profiling” (the use of race or ethnicity as one of several factors in the decision to stop a citizen).1 Ramirez and colleagues2 offered an integrated definition...
PART III: The Research
Introduction to Part III
Download PDF (62.1 KB)
The primary objective of this section is to immerse the reader in the state-of-the-art research on race/ethnicity, bias, and policing. The section includes original contributions from the top experts in the country describing their latest work in this important area. There are three persistent themes in the collection of chapters presented here. The...
11. Driving While Black: Bias Processes and Racial Disparity in Police Stops
Download PDF (182.2 KB)
Minority citizens have long suspected that their risk of a traffic stop is not proportionate to either their driving infractions or presence on our nation’s roads and highways (ACLU, 1999; Weitzer and Tuch, 2002). A national survey suggests that this belief is shared by a majority of white citizens as well (Newport, 1999). Indeed, some scholars...
12. Citizens’ Demeanor, Race, and Traffic Stops
Download PDF (193.9 KB)
Since the 1960s, a body of academic literature has developed that seeks to explain police decision making during police-citizen encounters.1 This body of research began with rich, ethnographic descriptions of police work, followed by more quantitative analyses designed to test hypotheses about extra-legal influences over police decision making. Collectively...
13. Street Stops and Broken Windows Revisited: The Demography and Logic of Proactive Policing in a Safe and Changing City
Download PDF (342.7 KB)
The role of policing in New York City’s crime decline has been the subject of contentious debate for well over a decade. Violent crime reached its modern peak in New York City in 1991, followed by a 10 percent decline in 1992–93 (Fagan, Zimring, and Kim, 1998). This initial crime decline was spurred by the hiring and quick deployment in 1991 of...
14. Community Characteristics and Police Search Rates: Accounting for the Ethnic Diversity of Urban Areas in the Study of Black, White, and Hispanic Searches
Download PDF (175.6 KB)
Police officers’ decisions to conduct searches subsequent to traffic stops are based on a number of factors including, but not limited to, their own discretion.1 Criminologists have long explored racial disparities in police behavior, ranging from arrest to incarceration.2 More recently researchers have suggested that race plays a role in the determination...
15. Blind Justice: Police Shootings in Memphis
Download PDF (127.4 KB)
The literature on police use of deadly force1 has produced two major findings. First, researchers report extreme variation in rates of police shooting among American jurisdictions.2 Second, regardless of its geographic scope, the research invariably reports that the percentage of police shootings involving black victims far exceeds the percentage...
16. Race, Bias, and Police Use of the TASER: Exploring the Available Evidence
Download PDF (195.3 KB)
The first two quotes above, the first from the late 1960s and the second from the mid-1990s, underscore the long history of tension and violence between police departments and minority communities in the United States. This history is perhaps best illustrated by the over-representation of blacks as victims of police use of force. For example...
PART IV: The Future
Introduction to Part IV
Download PDF (65.8 KB)
Two goals of Race, Ethnicity, and Policing have been to outline the multidisciplinary theoretical foundations of the study of race, ethnicity, and policing and to provide heuristics for the empirical assessment of a relationship (the police/minority community) which has faced great challenge. The final section in the volume, “The Future,” attempts...
17. Space, Place, and Immigration: New Directions for Research on Police Stops
Download PDF (402.9 KB)
A report from the U.S. Department of Justice on incarceration trends shows that the incarceration rate of blacks is six times the rate of whites (2,209 vs. 366 per 100,000 residents), while Hispanics are twice as likely to be incarcerated as whites (759 vs. 336 per 100,000).1 While researchers off er a number of different perspectives on the high rates of crime...
18. Revisiting the Role of Latinos and Immigrants in Police Research
Download PDF (145.5 KB)
The scarcity of research on Latinos and policing is one of the most enduring shortcomings in the development of race/ethnicity and the criminal justice system scholarship.1 This oversight is curious since scholars in the 1931 Wickersham Commission report focused on police treatment of Mexican immigrants, a topic central to early work on immigrants...
19. New Avenues for Profiling and Bias Research: The Question of Muslim Americans
Download PDF (175.8 KB)
Limited attention has been paid to Muslim Americans’ interactions with the justice system and domestic security apparatus. Instead, the “Muslim American experience” has typically been framed by the structural (e.g., matters of assimilation; socioeconomics), sociopolitical (e.g., perceptions of U.S. domestic and foreign policy; a “clash of civilizations...
20. Preventing Racially Biased Policing through Internal and External Controls: The Comprehensive Accountability Package
Download PDF (191.3 KB)
The quotes above are related to two infamous cases of police misconduct from the 1990s. The first comes from the Independent Commission on the Los Angeles Police Department (hereafter called the Christopher Commission), which investigated the LAPD in the wake of the Rodney King beating. As part of their investigation, the commission...
21. Democratic Policing: How Would We Know It If We Saw It?
Download PDF (139.6 KB)
At the heart of any discussion about race, ethnicity, and policing is the issue of fairness. Fairness in law enforcement is a cornerstone of democratic policing, marked by the fundamental expectation of equal treatment under the law regardless of one’s race or ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or other extralegal factors. The purpose of...
22. Moving Beyond Profiling: The Virtues of Randomization
Download PDF (176.0 KB)
Racial profiling is best understood as a type of law enforcement technique that relies, at least in theory, on actuarial methods to target individuals and resources. The only legitimate justification for racial profiling—for the deliberate and affirmative use of race in policing—would be that the method serves as a type of statistical discrimination...
About the Contributors
Download PDF (64.8 KB)
Download PDF (666.1 KB)
Page Count: 576
Publication Year: 2010