November 8, 2012
Albert J. Munoz-Flores, Psy. D.
Police Influence on Society
If you watch the nightly news you are bound to see a report of a clash between the police and a suspect or suspects. This often involves a high speed chase or the police taking a suspect down. These events are increasingly captured on video, especially with the advances in smart phones and portable video devices. Very often what you see is a white police officer or officers in some sort of violent struggle with an African-American or Hispanic male. Immediately, calls of excessive force or race enter the discussion. This is a serious issue in this country that only seems to be growing. Surely, the media plays a large role in this portrayal. Even though the media may feed into this perception, the fact remains a great deal of Americans perceive police treat non-whites differently and enforce the law differently based on race. We have all heard the term “racial profiling.” This term has been used extensively in discussion regarding Arizona’s new immigration policy. This conflict is nothing new. As police organizations began to develop in the United States they were exclusively made up of white males. During the political era of policing, the police were used to enforce the will of those in power. The police did not enforce the law equally, but reacted to the needs of the rich and powerful. This put the police in direct conflict with poor immigrant’s struggling to make their way in a new country. African-Americans at this time had little to no rights and were simply at the mercy of the police. In fact, early police organizations in the South were formed to do nothing more than hunt down runway slaves and keep them in line. During the reform era police focused attention on fighting crime and there were few protections in place for individual citizens. It was not uncommon during this period for police to beat...