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Department of Criminal Justice California State University - Bakersfield CRJU 330 Race, Ethnicity and Criminal Justice Dr. Abu-Lughod, Reem Ali Justice on the Streets. Unequal Justice: Cincinnati and the use of police force. 15 AA men have been shot and killed by police in recent years

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Department of Criminal Justice California State University - Bakersfield CRJU 330

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Department of Criminal Justice

California State University - Bakersfield

CRJU 330

Race, Ethnicity and Criminal Justice

Dr. Abu-Lughod, Reem Ali

Justice on the Streets

Unequal Justice:

  • Cincinnati and the use of police force. 15 AA men have been shot and killed by police in recent years

  • 2001 April, fatal shooting provoked a riot resulting in property damage and curfews

  • Suing police dept. because of racial profiling and was investigated by Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Dept. of Justice

  • City entered a consent decree with the Justice Dept., and ACLU and the local Black United Front to reform police dept. in regards to use of force, controlling canine unit and other issues

  • This also occurs in other cities

  • Recent controversial issue is: RACIAL PROFILING

  • Targeting AA traffic stops DWB

  • Hispanic reluctant to call police because of immigration status


  • Always conflict between police and racial/ethnic minorities

  • Major eras of riots 1917-1919, 1943, 1964-1968

  • Alfredo Mirande “gringo justice” because of conflicting views, culture, etc

  • Zoot Suit riots in L.A. attacks on Hispanic

  • Changing face of America requires more challenge for police

  • More conflict results, and more translation is required


  • Whites, Hispanics and AA all have different attitudes toward police

  • In general they all wanted more police protection

  • Rodney King beating 1991 caused a drop in police trust

  • AGE also affects attitude toward police

  • Young have more negative views because more contact


  • Report crimes at a higher rate than whites

  • Victims of crimes

  • Shot, killed and arrested at a much higher rate

  • Therefore more police patrol in AA neighborhoods


  • Report more property related crimes

  • Little contact especially if police cannot speak Spanish

  • Immigration status, know little abut U.S. laws, or lack of language skills


  • Their legal status have an effect on police relations

  • They have different tribes with federal reservations and separate law enforcement agencies

  • Crime committed depends on jurisdiction, who committed it, etc

  • Tribal police only have jurisdiction over crimes (less serious) committed on Indian lands by Native Americans. Otherwise it is the responsibility of the county sheriff

  • Also complex because they have 5 different types of tribal law enforcement agencies

  • Budget is tight, lack of personnel and many other problems


  • September 11th discrimination against Arabs

  • Approx 4 million Arab American 2% of population

  • Racial profiling, problems flying on certain airlines

  • Hate crimes

  • Sources of information about possible terrorist groups (FBI interviews)


  • INS was responsible in the past but then police were given authority after sep. 11th

  • Many local police officials rejected that because it will affect their relationship with community residents


  • 1974 AA 15-year old boy shot and killed after fleeing with a stolen purse containing $10

  • Memphis police acted upon fleeing felon rule

  • parents sued and in 1985 the Supreme Court declared the rule unconstitutional in Tennessee vs. Garner


  • Defense of life rule limiting shootings to those who pose threat to police

  • Police officers required to fill out a report when using a weapon and will be investigated

  • POLICE USE OF FORCE: particularly against those of low SES

  • Most force used is intra-racial

  • More racial minorities (AA) arrested compared to whites


  • When police officers focus on minor crimes e.g. urinating in public

  • Some argue that this reduced levels of crime, others argued that this abused police power in harassing individuals


  • What is it

  • Does it really exist

3 different forms of racial profiling

Like the War on Drugs. Targeting AA and Hispanics because of the belief that they are more likely to be engaged in drug trafficking.

Stopping citizens who appear to be “out of place”

Crackdown on Crime. Get tough on crime issues. Stop and frisk.

  • NOTE: more AA stopped for routine traffic checks compared with whites

  • How can we control for that???

  • Civil rights groups demand data collection on all traffic stops

  • Officers report to a dispatch the car they’re stopping and the reason for doing so

  • PERF report states that police officers should be courteous when stopping someone and provide a reason for the stop.

  • The Customs Bureau. Requires reasons for their supervisors before searching someone. AA women were more likely to be searched. After implementing policy, less innocent people were being searched


  • Field interrogation (FI). To make people aware that the police is there and aware of their actions

  • But the Kerner commission found that this created conflict between police and minority. Young AA and Hispanics were singled out

  • Problem is that police wanted to use their own discretion

  • Skolnick argues that stereotyping is built in police officers personality

  • Randall Kennedy argues that race should not be the sole factor

Verbal abuse is also a problem in police work, especially when referring to ethnic minorities

Police officers attitudes and behaviors also change depending on the race of the individual (even prejudiced against surnames)

  • Education and sensitivity training has contributed to a decline in discriminatory actions and behaviors

  • Police corruption. Especially in minority neighborhoods. Taking bribes to protect drug trades. Identified by the NY Knapp commission in 1970s, “meat eaters” and “grass eaters.”

  • Police community relations (PCR)

  • Speaking at schools

  • “ride along” to see policing form an officer’s perspective

  • Some implemented this but in different forms, community policing, reaching out to minorities, etc

  • Police employment practices

  • During segregation era (1890s-1960s) some cities did not hire AA officers

  • Employment discrimination occurs in 3 different forms:

  • Recruitment

  • Promotion

  • Assignment to shifts and specialized areas

  • Things changed from the 1960s on. More employment of racial minorities

  • BUT do they really represent their communities.

  • EEO index shows the percentage of employed minority compared to the entire population

  • More bilingual officers to deal with citizen complaints

How did society respond to employment discrimination

  • 14th amendment to the U.S. constitution: no state shall deny to any person the equal protection of the laws

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, religion.

  • 1972 EEO Act extended title VII to state and local governments

  • Discrimination in assignment: AA police officers were not allowed to arrest whites or patrol white neighborhoods

The impact of DIVERSITY

  • Impact on the subculture of a police department

  • Good or bad? How do we define diversity?

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