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Race Relations in Police Operations: A Legal and Ethical Perspective for Officers

NCJ Number
Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology Volume: 17 Issue: 1 Dated: Spring 2002 Pages: 84-94
Carl Milazzo; Ronald Hansen
Date Published
11 pages
This paper looks beyond the contemporary controversy over the use of race in drug courier profiling and examines the broad spectrum of race relations that affect police operations.
Although Federal case law tends to recognize the factual relationship between the commission of certain types of crimes and various racial classifications, some States are apparently unwilling to adopt the Federal standard. From a management perspective, the deterioration of race relations that results from targeting African-Americans for stops on suspicion of drug possession may outweigh the potential impact on drug offenses. Further, police managers and trainers should not view race relations as only an issue in interacting with African-American citizens. Rather, all races have a stake in fair treatment by police. Police training in interacting with minorities in the course of their duties should be based on the factual application of prevailing law, with the use of substantial amounts of case law as teaching material. Legal, factual, and ethical integration of training is likely to be more effective than diversity training, because it is more practical and less likely to meet resistance. This paper provides an overview of relevant landmark case law. Although complaints of discriminatory enforcement will persist regardless of training and supervision of officers, good training and supervision should reduce or eliminate inadvertent bias and intentional discrimination. 26 notes