African Americans Attitudes Towards Police

Topics: Middle class, Police, Working class Pages: 14 (3297 words) Published: September 5, 2012
African Americans Attitudes towards Police
The George Washington University


Past experiences have shown that African Americans tend to have a more hostile relationship with police officers than other races. Research from multiple scholars confirms that there is in fact a correlation between a person’s race and the attitude they have towards officers. This experiment aims to verify that race is responsible for this difference in attitude. A survey containing multiple demographic questions and inquiries about attitudes and reactions to police officers was distributed to my Research Methods class as well as my family and friends. The results of this study support the hypothesis, and show that social class and type of neighborhood a person lives in also influences their attitude towards the police.

African Americans’ Attitudes towards Police

In our society, it is no secret that African Americans are frequently involved in altercations with police that result in extreme harm or death. Many people believe that blacks are targeted by the police and are often victims of police brutality. From this belief, many African Americans develop hostile or distrustful attitudes towards officers. These ill attitudes sometimes cause otherwise peaceful situations with authority to escalate and cause harm to both civilians and police officers. Whether there is a difference between the attitudes and trust levels blacks and whites have towards police is crucial in understanding aspects of American culture. If there is an entire subgroup that is hostile towards the people who are suppose to keep us safe, what does this say about our society? And what does this say about the people we trust to protect us? This issue has continued past segregation, past the civil rights movement, past the race riots, and past the drug raids of the 1980s.The fact that times have changed, but African Americans’ sentiments towards police have stayed the same speaks volumes on the burden put on a sector of American society and displays just how significant this issue is.

Sacrificed on the altar of public safety: The policing of Latino and African American youth by Adams and Sanchez (2011) investigates how heavy policing and surveillance in low income areas affect the youth. The researchers conducted forty interviews with non-delinquent African American and Latino youth from poor, high crime areas about the heavy surveillance in their neighborhood (Adams & Sanchez, 2011). Their results showed that the immense amount of policing and surveillance caused a wave of violence in their neighborhood and built distrust and negative attitudes towards the police officers (Adams & Sanchez, 2011).

Callanan and Rosenberger’s (2011) article studied the influence of crime related media on a person’s opinion of the police. Researchers distributed a survey to 4,245 California residents in which three aspects of police performance were shown on multiple forms of media (Callanan & Rosenberger, 2011). These aspects are confidence in the police, police fairness, and police use of excessive force. Results from the study showed that viewing television news and crime-based reality programs significantly increased confidence in the police in whites and had no effect on African Americans (Callanan & Rosenberger, 2011). The researchers also examined crime discrimination and race in relation to the influence crime related media had on a person’s opinion of the police. These results showed that first hand experiences with crime were more influential than the media in molding a person’s opinion of the police.

Cochran and Warren’s article examines how police evaluations are influenced by officer race. The study initially looks at prior research where they find that Blacks and Latinos have lower levels of trust and confidence in police officers than...
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