Over the past several years, police misconduct on racial minorities has been an exclusive topic across the United States. However, the police force has made tremendous changes that are meant to change its image in the public’s eyes. Progress has been made with more members of ethnic minorities being recruited in the police force. The United States has a solid legal structure that proves that equal representation in the police officer is essential. Connections with societies are better, with neighborhood policing playing an important role. However, there is a long way to go to ensure equal representation of races in the police force. The police force has to offer services that serve the interests of all communities. The way the force carries out its day-to-day activities internally has to support equality as far as race is concerned. Every police officer requires to have the opportunity of developing and making progress towards ensuring better policing. We must not stop on the journey needed to move further and step up a gear with new approaches and thinking. Implementing a fight against hate crime is an appropriate illustration of where significant progress has been made. On the other hand, there is more to be done explicitly concerning ethnic minorities in society. Hate crime has a potent effect on the individual, but the fear that comes with it quickly spreads to affect society in due course. It is important to note that the more a police force knows what its communities require, the more it will implement better policing. African-Americans are more likely to be treated with excessive force or arrested by police officers than their white counterparts; we can solve this issue by ensuring equal representation of races in the police force.
Although the number of ethnic minority law enforcement officers has increased in America, there is a lot to be done if the police force across the nation is to replicate and thoroughly appreciate the societies they work for ultimately. The issue is predominantly severe at the senior ranks in the force. Out of 220 police officers in the upper leadership, only three of them are from ethnic minorities (Miller & Vittrup, 2020). The administration of the police force is viewed differently from the public’s eye. The roles of police staff, including the rank of a chief officer, are open to new entrants from outside the service, and the police force benefits significantly from the viewpoints that the new entrants bring. However, at the moment, one has to join as a constable to become a police officer. Just one career path for law enforcement officers means that the range of viewpoints is limited. In the roles of senior officers in the United States, we require people with operational experience and skills to make high-risk decisions, attract the confidence of the public, and command police officers. But suppose a new entrant from outside the police force will be able to provide something different. In that case, chief officers and police reformers should consider new ways of creating operational skills they require, incorporating more efficient rapid-tracking of talent.
The United States has been ranked as the most racially diverse democratic country across the globe. However, its gains as far as economic prosperity is concerned are not uniformly shared since some communities have been marginalized throughout the nation’s history. One fundamental feature of the marginalization mentioned above is the disparate treatment of people of color across the police force. Racial disparity brings about public mistrust of the police force, which slows Americans’ ability to promote public safety (Mullinix et al., 2021). Many police officers are aware of the issue of racial disparity and would be willing to counteract it. As Americans, we readily acknowledge that racial inequality in the police force is symptomatic of problems facing society generally but maintain that some strategies can be developed to reduce disparity at the end of the day. Addressing the issue of racial inequality in the police force is entirely aligned with the commitment to a fair system of justice and public safety. If chief officers and police reformers can successfully ensure equal representation of races in the police force, policing will gain significant credibility and serve a more efficient part in preventing and responding to criminal activities.
Racial disparity in the police force exists when the proportion of a racial group in the control of law enforcement agencies is more significant than the proportion of such groups when it comes to the entire population. The causes of the disparities mentioned above are diverse and incorporate decision-making in policing, legislative policies, policing emphasis on specific communities, and varying crime levels. Research by Siegel (2020) has revealed that racial inequality in the police force results from the different treatment of similarly located persons on a racial basis. In certain circumstances, racial disparity in the police force may involve evident racial bias. In contrast, it might reflect the influence of aspects that are just indirectly related to race in others. Furthermore, in some instances, disparity results from the unguarded, institution- or individual-level decisions based on race. Structural racism resulting from the long-lasting differential treatment of people with features considerably connected with race (e.g., poverty) can aggravate or cause racial disparity too.
Racial inequality in the police force is created at each stage of policing continuum, from arrest to being arraigned in a court of law instead of the result of the actions at any single step. To address the issue of racial inequality in the service, strategies are required to address the issue at every stage of policing, and this has to be done in a coordinated manner. Without addressing the problem systematically, gains in certain areas might be offset by reversals in others. Each element and decision point of the police force needs unique tactics depending on the magnitude of disparity and the particular populations affected by that element’s dealings. System comprehensive transformation is not possible without informed top police officers who are not just willing but also able to commit agency and their resources to measuring and addressing the issue of racial disparity at every stage of policing, and consequently for the policing as a whole.
Statistics at the national and community level reveal the cumulative effect of racial disparity through each decision point in the police service. Decisions that are made at one stage contribute to increasing differences at the stages that follow. For instance, if bail practices lead to minorities ending up being detained before even being made to pass through the trial process at higher rates than similarly located whites, there are higher chances that they will equally be disadvantaged not just at trial but also sentence by having little or no access to treatment options, community resources, and defense counsel. The unequal representation in the police force challenges the fundamental values upon which the policing rests. To the magnitude that the disparity mentioned above has been brought by issues that are closely related to racism (in other words, discrimination that is ultimately on a racial basis), it represents an absolute refusal of the principle of better policing. A commitment to public safety, fairness, and justice values force professionals to address disparate treatment significantly when and where it rests. A sense that policing across the United States is fair is essential as far as the functioning of a democratic nation is concerned. As a result, there must be a connection between personal and societal values: a commitment to due procedure and fairness is an outright personal and societal dictum. Failure to have the obligation mentioned above will erode the confidence in the rule of law.
For instance, because police officers are the gatekeepers to policing, fundamental suspicion and mistrust of law enforcers destroys the partnership of the community and policing at the most direct contact point when it comes to the police service and the community. Therefore, proactive strategies to creating trust between communities and law enforcers are essential. Police officers have to publicly communicate their acknowledgment that racially imbalanced policing will negatively affect households, societies, and the nation at large (Meng, 2017). For a democratic government to carry out its day-to-day activities efficiently, communities must support law enforcement agencies as an essential ingredient for good policing. On the other hand, law enforcers have to work in a very public and organized manner to instill that trust. In the same way, the commitment and willingness of the civilians to respect and understand the policing procedure are greatly dependent on a sense that the police force demonstrates societal values at the end of the day. In the recent past, police have often served as a pivotal point for society’s frustration on the racial issues in the larger community. As a result, it is significantly essential that illegitimate or unwarranted racial disparities are looked at not just publicly but also aggressively. The user of the research at hand will note that it talks about racial inequalities that theoretically do not include ethnic minorities who are also subjected to differential treatment when it comes to policing in the United States. Unfortunately, the police service information rarely disentangles ethnicity from race. For that reason, we are aware of relatively little regarding what ethnic minorities experience in the hands of police officers. In the recent past, the data deficiencies mentioned above have been somewhat addressed. Edwards et al. (2019) have revealed increasing amounts of data on the involvement of Latino in policing. Still, much less is documented on the Native Americans and Asian-Americans, although there are pockets of data for the populations mentioned above. Where it is possible, we incorporate these findings in the report at hand. Generally, some of the discriminations that are subjected to African-Americans as far as policing is concerned are similar to those experienced by various ethnic groups but not necessarily all of them.
Research by Cunningham & Gillezeau (2018, May) has revealed that racial inequalities might result from decision-making in the police service. They also suggest that steps that chief officers and police reformers can take to counter those impacts. The decision mentioned above offers a chance for the concerned parties to ensure that people of color are treated fairly by police officers. On the other hand, it is essential to recognize that the police service operates in a more significant political and social context that affects its operation and the position of racial minorities when it comes to policing. Police office professionals are capable of addressing the issue of racial inequality in several ways: since they are mostly picked from outside the police force, they can seek to influence the political procedure; as professionals in the service, they can work for systematic transformation; and as decision-makers in the police force, the can exercise discretion to ultimately counterbalance the effect of racial inequality, whether it is as a result of a larger political or social context or previous decisions in the police service. Therefore, chief officers, police reformers, and other involved parties will come across an awareness of the broader social context beneficial in coming up with strategies of ensuring that the decisions made in the police force help reduce racial disparity in due course.
Correlates and causes of racial inequality in the police service are manifold. Some of the broader systematic causes and social causes of the issue that have been pinpointed include overt racial bias, legislative decisions, inequality to access resources, and higher crime rates. Because many criminal activities go unreported to the law enforcement agencies, it is complex to conclude race concerning the offender. According to Bury et al. (2018), the most reliable available information is arrest statistics that are provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Uniform Crime Report (UCR). However, the figure provided do not include those who were offended but were not arrested.
Chief Officers, police reformers, and other involved parties in the police service have the accountability to evaluate and eliminate unwarranted racial inequality. A comprehensive and systematic approach is essential if we have to ensure racial equality in the police force. Angus & Crichlow (2018) assert that most decision points in the law enforcement agencies reflect actions and inputs from various actors in the service. This implies that the service requires a coordinated response when it comes to policing. The reply mentioned above should pay special attention to the effect of decisions related to racial inequality. On top of that, since the outcome of cases relies on various figures in the service, progress in one area can be counteracted easily by decisions made in another area. For example, policing efforts meant to reduce the use of racial profiling might be obstructed by a mayoral prioritizing of suppressing the problem of drugs via mass arrests; the actions of suppressions at many times imply arrests in minorities. Early coordination between the mayor’s office and the law enforcement agencies in the above example may serve to ensure that both are working in a direction that will not favor any group.
As a proactive approach, policymakers, both at state and national levels, should ensure that the recruitment of police officers across the country is equal and fair among all communities. Such measures will help the police service eliminate racial discrimination as far as policing is concerned (Afful, 2018). On top of that, the police force will gain trust from the community, which will help the law enforcement agencies reduce crimes at the end of the day. In other words, the community will feel free to report criminal activities, thus promoting community policing. Therefore, it is right to say that such measures will not just help eliminate racial discrimination but also help fight crime in the United States.
Race-based discrepancies in personal treatment are among the most challenging issues in the United States today, and these are especially apparent in the policing arena. Racial inequality in the police force is extensive, and its perpetuation threatens to challenge the principle that the police force is fair, just, and effective. If the police force is to be seen in the public eye as appropriate, it requires support and public cooperation. The existence of the viewpoint racial inequalities reduces public confidence in the police force, which will put the safety of the people in jeopardy. Chief Officers and police reformers cannot do away with inequalities from the police service alone. The high rates of minorities involved in the police force show a complex set of community, economic, and social issues; in numerous aspects, minority overrepresentation in the service is a result of disparate treatment in areas such as equal access to affordable housing, sustainable income, jobs, and education. Chief Officers and police reformers may see themselves as not being better positioned to address racial inequality over which they have little control. We hope the research at hand provides possible solutions through developing strategies by which the involved parties can address the issue of racial bias at various points in the police force. We advocate for a holistic, systematic approach that considers the long-term effect of decisions on the racial arrangement of the police service. This should incorporate coordination, public involvement, accountability, leadership, professionally informed discretion, and resources among many participants in the police service.
Additionally, policymakers ought to remain informed and involved about evolving best practices to ensure racial inequality in the police force, which will help eliminate the pattern of discrimination of racial minorities when it comes to policing. On top of that, policymakers can sponsor changes by advocating legislation that provides a feasible solution for racial disparity in the police service. Chief Officers, police reformers, and other involved parties in the policing arena have an obligation of challenging themselves to lead a nationwide debate on the role of the race when it comes to policing. If this can be accomplished by jurisdiction, we can expect to experience better policing and have other organizations follow suit. This would be a significant step as far as addressing the issue of discrimination in the United States is concerned.
Afful, I. (2018). The impact of values, bias, culture, and leadership on BME under-representation in the police service. International Journal of Emergency Services.
Angus, J., & Crichlow, V. (2018). A race and power perspective on police brutality in America. FAU Undergraduate Research Journal, 7, 8-8.
Bury, J., Pullerits, M., Edwards, S., Davies, C., & DeMarco, J. (2018). Enhancing diversity in policing. Report prepared by NatCen Social Research for the National Police Chiefs Council and the Police Transformation Fund.
Cunningham, J. P., & Gillezeau, R. (2018, May). Racial differences in police use of force: Evidence from the 1960s civil disturbances. In AEA Papers and Proceedings (Vol. 108, pp. 217-21).
Edwards, F., Lee, H., & Esposito, M. (2019). Risk of being killed by police use of force in the United States by age, race-ethnicity, and sex. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 116(34), 16793-16798.
Meng, Y. (2017). Profiling minorities: Police stop and search practices in Toronto, Canada. Human Geographies, 11(1).
Miller, C., & Vittrup, B. (2020). The indirect effects of police racial bias on African American families. Journal of Family Issues, 41(10), 1699-1722.
Mullinix, K. J., Bolsen, T., & Norris, R. J. (2021). The feedback effects of controversial police use of force. Political Behavior, 43(2), 881-898.
Siegel, M. (2020). Racial disparities in fatal police shootings: an empirical analysis informed by critical race theory. BUL Rev., 100, 1069.