Both institutional and cultural characteristics combine to contribute to racial disparities in policing, but it is my opinion that the institution is the stronger of the two influences. The structure of the institution promotes certain tactics, philosophies, and standard operating procedures that can result in an apparent inequality between races. It is the overzealous need for making arrests, combined with criminal profiles that target certain minorities to make these arrests, that we are presented with a glaring racial disparity issue. While cultural implications are certainly deserving of attention in the matter, they play as lesser role than the institution.
When addressing racial issues caused by the police institution, it is important to discuss arrests. For police, an arrest means more than getting a criminal off the streets for a period of time. An arrest is physical proof for a police officer that they are capable and competent enough to do their job. This competence provides officers with a sense of what constitutes a good job and what outcomes will provide them with approbation from their peers (Herbert 1998; Muir 1999). The need for an officer to prove this directly influences their desire to make more "good" arrests.
[...] Therefore, the only instances where a police officer might feel confidant fully doing “police work” to standard is when dealing with a person of low economic and/or low social standing. This leads to the perception that differences in the treatment of individuals stem from a police officer's inherent prejudices rather than lifestyle and career preservation. References: Bittner, Egon “The Functions of the Police in Modern Society.” Pp. 14-33 in Policing Perspectives: An Anthology, edited by L. K. Gaines and G. [...]
[...] The problem of racial disparity arises when a group of people are being arrested, or generally scrutinized, at a higher proportion to their numbers in society. The institutional importance of arrests directly influenced the federal government's decision to create the airport drug courier profile to make more arrests in the war on drugs (Cassak and Heumann 2003). Using a predetermined list of characteristics that are supposedly common for drug couriers transporting drugs through the United States airport systems, law enforcement officials were able to drastically increase the probability of making an arrest. [...]
[...] Yet there is a problem with that sort of thinking. Like with order, people have a differing perspective of what constitutes discrimination (Bittner 1999; MacDonald 2001). Many scholars have maintained that intentional discrimination does not exist and that the empirical picture is more complex (Wilbanks 1987). Researchers have concluded that the social science research overall shows that racial discrimination does occur in some stages of justice processing, some of the time, and in some places, and that small differences in treatment accumulate across the criminal justice system and over time, resulting in larger racially different outcomes (Wilbanks 1987). [...]
[...] When addressing racial issues caused by the police institution, it is important to discuss arrests. For police, an arrest means more than getting a criminal off the streets for a period of time. An arrest is physical proof for a police officer that they are capable and competent enough to do their job. This competence provides officers with a sense of what constitutes a good job and what outcomes will provide them with approbation from their peers (Herbert 1998; Muir 1999). [...]
[...] W. Cordner. New York: Oxford University Press. Fyfe, James J ””Good” Policing.” Pp. 269-90 in The Socio-Economics of Crime and Justice, edited by B. Forst. Armonk, New York: M.E. Sharpe, Inc. Klockars, Carl B “The Dirty Harry Problem.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 452: 33-47. MacDonald, Heather “The Myth of Racial Profiling.” City Journal 11(2). [...]
using our reader.