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The Police Relationship with The Black Community: A Review Of The Literature
Rosa Coronel
Hampton University

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Abstract
The police relationship with the black community is a professional relationship between the
police force and the African American community in the United States. It is represented as the
behavior and treatment of African Americans by the police force. This research is concentrated
on the police relationship with the black community because it is an ongoing issue. There have
been many situations where the black community has been treated unfair by police officers. This
topic has been researched because it is a current problem in society. The black community has
reacted with movements across social media; such as the Black Lives Matter movement.

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The purpose of this research paper is to collect primary and secondary research data to draw a
pattern on the police relationship with the black community during the years 2015-2016. In this
research paper, four important questions related to the relationship between the police force and
the African American community must be considered:

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How are the police reacting with direct accusations of their relationship with the black
community?

2.

What is the degree of trust towards the police officers from the black community?

3.

Why is the black community targeted more to the police, rather than Latino or Caucasian
communities?

4.

How is the police relationship with the black community improving during the years 2015-2016?

The following review on literature will: provide information on how police officers react to
accusations of their relationship with the black community, inform about the degree of trust that
the black community has towards the police, discuss why the black community is targeted more
than Latino or Caucasian communities and evaluate the improvement of the police to black
community relationship during the years 2015-2016.

How are the police reacting with direct accusations of their relationship with the black
community?

The law enforcement system of the United States is a controversial system that is a hot
discussion in todays society. According to multiple surveys conducted circa 2000, a single

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infographic was created to display the information that was retrieved from the results of the
surveys. The infographic displayed icons of police officers coupled with had percentages and
verbal statistics. 25% of the police officers surveyed indicated that they have witnessed fellow
police officers harass a citizen most likely because of his or her race. This percentage indicates
that 25% of nationwide police officers judge a citizen by their race and would most likely impose
harsher punishments to the citizen because of their race. Related to this statistic, 52% of the
police officers agree that it is not unusual for a police officer to turn a blind eye to improper
conduct by other officers. Alongside improper behavior that this infographic displays that the
police are conducting, there is 49%, close to half of the police officers, feel that the only option
of criminal punishment is to punish the individual him or herself. On the surface, the surveys
indicate that the police officers take advantage of their authority, however any given year only a
small 6.8% of police officers will have a complaint filed against them for misconduct. Amongst
these numbers, only 9.5% of the city police officers, where police brutality crime is the heaviest,
are filed by complaints of misconduct. In addition to the small amount of police officers filed for
complains of misconduct by the black community, there is a large number of complaints that do
not receive meaningful disciplinary action. For example, the city of Chicago received more than
10,000 complaints between 2002 and 2004 but only had 19 cases that received disciplinary
action. As the rise of social media trends and smartphone usage, many citizens observe situations
of misconduct and report them. Applications such as Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter
receive millions of posts on police brutality; including videos, images and audio recordings.
More than 60% of Americans have access to video enabled devices so this statistic will only rise
after 2016 (Auriandra, 2014).

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What is the degree of trust towards the police officers from the black community?

During the years 2015-2016, the black community has experienced a large amount of unfair
treatment. Police brutality cases, including the murder of Michael Brown by Ferguson, Missouri
police officer Darren Wilson has shifted all the focus on social media and news reports on the
situation. Yet, in accordance to the Huff Post and the Marshall Project statistics, the overall
confidence within the police remains high. According to a sample of 100 adult interviews
between April 16 to April 20, the majority of the respondents said that they trusted the police
officers. The interview question was How much do you trust the law enforcement agencies?.
The poll was taken by the organization YouGov. According to the interview, 36% the local police
department, 37% of police officers worldwide, 45% of the members of the Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI), 40% of the members of the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), 34%
of the members of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and 35% of the Secret Service said
that they had a fair amount of trust in the law enforcement agencies. These statistics collectively
say that the majority of these government associated agencies and organizations have a fair
amount of trust into the nations police departments (Wing, 2015). According to an article
published on the Marshall Project; a criminal justice newspaper, the FBI is historically been the
least diverse federal law enforcement agency. The percentage of FBI special agents that are
African American are 4.5% as of 2014. (U.S. Department of Justice, 1999)
The percentage of white special agents is a whopping 83.3%. These statistics alone indicate that
the interviews conducted by the YouGov organization are bias towards the white population of
the American community. Universally, a white person is treated more fairly by society that a
black person. So according to the YouGov interviews, one can view the responses as valid

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because the demographic of the white population have a fair amount of trust within the
enforcement system. According to the source from the Marshall Project, the FBI is searching for
new strategies of recruitment to diversify their employees. The FBI and other federal law
enforcement agencies have patterns of hiring applicants that are white and to promote their
applicants by race. Black and Latino communities have reacted with lawsuits to challenge the
discrimination but the federal agencies have won all the legal cases (Weichselbaum, 2015).

Why is the black community targeted more to the police, rather than Latino or Caucasian
communities?

The black community is targeted more than any other community in the United States because
there is heavy discrimination of minorities, and the African Americans are the largest
demographic of minorities living in the United States. According to a survey conducted by the
Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research at the University of Chicago, black
people are most likely to have a personally negative experience with police officers. This specific
survey indicted that more than three out of five African Americans had a negative personal
experience with police officers compared to 03% of white respondents that indicated the same.
(Queally, 2015) According to my primary research that I conducted, there were 75% African
American and 25% Hispanic; all respondents were between the ages 18 to 34. The respondent's
political party indentation was 75% Democrat and 25% Independent. The political party has
heavy influence because the Democrat party cares about the fundamental rights of citizens and
would not overlook the abuse that takes place in police brutality situations. In accordance to the
region of the United States that the respondents lived in, there were 60% that lived in the South

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and 25% that lived in the DMV. Also, the geographic area that each respondent indicated that
they lived in was accounted for as well; 60% identified with the suburban geographic area. The
following questions were identifiers that allowed the primary research to narrow itself. The
following two questions were subjective to the respondent. The first question asked the trend of
the number of cases where the police officers has to use excessive force against the civilians of
the black community. 80% of the respondents answered that the cases are going up. The last
question asked if the police are too quick to use lethal force or would they typically only use
force when necessary. Once again, 60% of the answers answered that they were too quick. Under
the analysis of my primary research, I received a total of 15 completed surveys that indicated that
the law enforcement system treats the black community unfairly.

Number of People Killed by Police, January 2013 - December 2015


131
120
120

119

103

102
People Killed by Police

100

87

94
72

107

110

106

104

100 100

98

105

102

80

127

122

118

109

81

97

83

96

94

90
84

81

89

87

98

88

83

70

60
56
40

20
0
1/1/2013

4/1/2013

7/1/2013

10/1/2013

1/1/2014

4/1/2014

7/1/2014
Month/Year

10/1/2014

1/1/2015

4/1/2015

7/1/2015

10/1/2015

Victim Race Black


43

42
38

People Killed by Police (By Race Selected)

40

38
36

36
32

31

30
28

30

26
24

24

27
20

20

30

23

24

21

24

23
20

20

19

27

28

27

22

25

26

24

24
22

21

16
10

12

0
1/1/2013

4/1/2013

7/1/2013

10/1/2013

1/1/2014

4/1/2014

7/1/2014
Month/Year

10/1/2014

1/1/2015

4/1/2015

7/1/2015

10/1/2015

How is the police relationship with the black community improving during the years 20152016?

There is steady improvement from the law enforcement system towards the black community.
For example, the RespectStat system, a program made by the New York City Police Department
(NYPD) , is promoting the Police-Community Interaction (PCI) Survey. The PCI Survey will
rate citizen encounters with police officers based on indicators, such as respect, helpfulness, and
competence. This new wave of progressive initiative from the law enforcement system indicates

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new changes in the relationship between the black community and the police officers (Moraff,
2015).

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Reference Page
Wing, N. (2015, April 22). Most Americans Still Have Faith In The Police, Poll Finds. Retrieved
April 01, 2016, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/22/law-enforcement-trustpoll_n_7118634.html
Weichselbaum, S. (2015, March 12). Why Is the FBI so White? Retrieved April 01, 2016, from
https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/03/12/why-is-the-fbi-so-white#.V7u3izdAU
Auriandra (2014, August 22). Polls: Police Brutality What The Police Have To Say. Retrieved
April 01, 2016, from http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/8/22/1323722/-Polls-Police-BrutalityWhat-The-Police-Have-To-Say
Queally, J. (2015, August 05). Black and White: Survey Reveals Huge Disparities in Assessing
Police Violence. Retrieved April 01, 2016, from
http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/08/05/black-and-white-survey-reveals-hugedisparities-assessing-police-violence
U.S. Department of Justice. (1999). Use of Force. Retrieved April 01, 2016, from
http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=tp
Moraff, C. (2015, August 28). Will New "Respect" Strategy Improve Police-Community
Relations? Retrieved April 01, 2016, from https://nextcity.org/daily/entry/new-police-strategyrespectstat-compstat