How diversity affects police work?
Traci Ann Fuchs
August 16, 2013
SS 310 Cultural Diversity
DR. Don Kirk Macon
The role of the police is to enforce the law, not to question it. This means that the police have been used to do society's racial dirty work--to return runaway slaves to their masters and to enforce segregation in the South. We have only to think of Southern sheriffs like "Bull" Connor to remind us of how the white power structure has fought to maintain its privileges. However, it also pays to remember that it is always easier to admit the sins of the past than it is to identify those of today. Few people today would defend a sheriff like Connor, but while there is widespread agreement today that racism is a serious problem, that consensus dwindles when people are asked to confirm specific examples. People will admit to the problem in general, but balk at attributing racist motives to any example that cuts too close to home. The police today must contend directly with a number of issues that carry a racial subtext both in fact and in perception: crime, drugs, disorder, civil unrest, and police brutality. While some can look at the same glass and call it half empty, while others call it half full, there is ample reason to suggest that even the most optimistic observers would agree that the police face a major challenge in this era of racial anxiety (Trojanowicz & Bucqueroux, 1991). The purpose of this paper will be to explore the dynamics of the racially charged issues that the police must deal with. It will also explore how and why a nationwide shift to Community Policing is essential if law enforcement is to face the challenge of promoting greater racial harmony as we are in the 21st century. It will also contend that Community Policing helps ensure that the police are not misused again, as they have been in the past. Given the daily interaction between law enforcement officers and the diverse public, diversity training for law enforcement workers aids a better understanding of different types of people and their situations. Such education leads to better interaction. Those whose professional ideal is to protect and serve people equally from all backgrounds must face the challenges and complexities of a diverse society. A lack of communication effectiveness, coupled with little understanding of individuals’ backgrounds, can result in inadvertent violation of individuals’ rights as well as officer safety and risk issues. Officers, even more than others, must ensure that their prejudices remain in check and that they refrain from acting on any biased thought. Although our nation has been enriched by diversity, many police procedures and interactions with citizens can be more complex because of diversity. Racial tensions and communication challenges with immigrants, for example, are bound to complicate some police encounters. It would be naïve to preach to law enforcement officers, agents, and managers about the value of diversity when day-to-day activities can be complicated by diversity. At a minimum, a basic acceptance of diversity on the part of all criminal justice representatives is required as a precursor to improving interpersonal relations and contact across cultural, ethnic, and racial lines. (Robert M. Shusta, 2103) Law enforcement officers are affected by culture diversity each day as they patrol and interact with citizen within their jurisdictions. Communities depend on law enforcement for measures of security, safety and service. Some segments of communities have felt neglected or misunderstood by local law enforcement, leading to a lack of trust and a sense of insecurity. With this being the feeling of the community, contemporary law enforcement on the local, state, and federal level has changed immensely from the practices used by law enforcement in the past. Today law enforcement officers receive education and training far exceeding any training implemented in history. Training and...
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Robert M. Shusta, D. R. (2103, July 23). Multicultural Law Enforcement: Strategies for Peacekeeping in a Diverse Society. Retrieved from pearson customs: http://wps.pearsoncustom.com/wps/media/objects/10894/11155653/CJ310_Ch01.pdf
Trojanowicz, R. C., & Bucqueroux, B. (1991). Community Policing and the Challenge of Diversity. Retrieved July 23, 2013, from The National Center for Community Policing: http://www.cj.msu.edu/~people/cp/diverse.html
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