Racial Policing in the United States Essay
The issue of possible prejudice against ethnic minorities in the American police force is one of the most discussed topics of the last 30 years. Caliendo states that America imprisons more citizens per capita than any other nation, and convicted felons are not proportionally distributed across racial and ethnic groups (122). This statement is echoed both by the proponents of racial policing and those who are against it.
In the recent years, the number of visible cases of police brutality and prejudice toward black males has risen dramatically, which reignited the public discussion of this phenomenon. With the prisons being overpopulated by people of ethnic descent, and unarmed people being shot during arrests, it is important to ask why this trend continues. This paper will try to interpret an answer to this question while examining the issue as a whole.
There are multiple ways in which racial policing is visible in the actions of officers throughout the country. The first is the most visible one and it involves excessive use of force and police brutality. While some cases may be blamed on excessive fear and paranoia that an officer can feel when approaching a suspected criminal, others defy explanation. The case of the behavioral therapist Charles Kinsey is one of the more baffling examples of this phenomenon.
Kinsey is a behavioral therapist who works in North Miami. One of his patients was playing with a on the side of the road, which was mistaken for a gun by the police. To peacefully resolve the situation, Kinsey slowly approached the patient while explaining the situation to a police officer who was ready to shoot. To avoid any provocation, he laid down next to his patient with his arms held high. Moments later he was shot by the police officer.
Fortunately, the shot was not fatal and Kinsey was able to recover. However, such cases are numerous and often result in fatalities. Members of the police responsible for the shooting often do not receive any punishment due to their actions being considered reasonable for an average member of the police. This further fuels distrust and anger among the citizens, which threatens to damage the authority of police as an institution.
One possible explanation for this type of action, aside from of individuals who commit police brutality, may be reliance on statistics during police training. As it was stated earlier, ethnic population of prisons is disproportionate to whites. Based on these statistics, a person may assume that a black person is more likely to commit crime than a white person. However, this is a false conclusion.
The most by the new entrants were possession or sale of narcotics (29 percent) (131). It is clear that the majority of were not involved in violent crime and the high number of black inmates is more related to the desire of police to clean the streets, rather than prevent violent crime. Perhaps these statistics are still used to train people to be more suspicious, or even afraid of any person of color that they encounter. From the outset, this seems like an easy problem to fix. Those who are responsible for police brutality should be punished. Unfortunately, the reality does not allow for such a simple solution.