Black in Blue: African-American Police Officers and Racism


Perceptions of African American Police Officers on Racial Profiling in Small Agencies

Black Students at WhiteColleges and Universities Sociologists Bolton and Feagin offer a penetrating look at the tensions within police departments as more and more black officers join what was previously an exclusive and insular workforce. Focusing on 16 different law-enforcement agencies in the South, the authors offer personal accounts by 50 veteran black officers on the day-to-day stress of balancing relationships with distrustful white officers steeped in racial stereotypes and relationships with black communities that often view them as traitors. The authors provide the historical context of the policing of black communities since slavery and the continued disproportionate police attention paid to nonwhite communities, as well as previous sparse research on black police officers.

But the most compelling elements of the book are the visceral accounts by black officers facing ongoing hostility and racism from initial training through efforts for advancement. They also offer redeeming accounts of sensitizing fellow officers and humanizing treatment of black communities. Readers interested in law-enforcement and racial issues will appreciate this look at efforts to desegregate police operations and how much more work is needed.

Thank you for using the catalog. Her mother had pleaded with her to reconsider, but she had given her word: She was going to tell the world about the racism in the San Francisco Police Department. Williams entered the massive white stone library on Larkin Street, within sight of City Hall. A blue-ribbon panel organized by the district attorney was investigating a shocking string of racist text messages exchanged by 14 officers.

Williams would be the only black police officer to testify in public. Others were too afraid.

Black in blue : African-American police officers and racism

Waiting to speak, Williams, 61, thought about the years of struggle between black and blue in San Francisco. About promotions denied, slurs hurled, disparate discipline.

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About complaints filed by the black Officers for Justice organization, and warnings to keep quiet from the police officers union, which wielded considerable influence inside the department. About the text messages from fellow officers that called her a n—— b—-. Then Williams told her truth: The police force suffered from systemic and institutionalized racism. Not all cops are racist, she said, but the culture of the department allowed racism to fester, to corrupt, and sometimes to explode. The date was Jan. Within weeks, the president of the police union all but branded her a traitor in a public letter , making Williams fear for her safety on the job.

Internal affairs investigators accused her of several questionable violations, including wearing her uniform while shopping off-duty in a Walmart.

A horrifying exchange

Someone broke into her house and stole her laptop, but ignored her jewelry and six guns. That should have made her a lock for advancement — but officers cannot be promoted with unresolved disciplinary actions. Blue pays my bills.

Williams grew up with three siblings in a two-story home in Potrero Hill that her father, a city plumber and assistant church pastor, built himself. Her mother, now 95, still lives there. Williams attended the University of California, Berkeley and worked her way up to a position as regional credit manager for Holiday Inn.

This was the height of the crack epidemic. The drug traffic on her corner was crazy, and the police seemed ineffective. After the march, she began working with the local police and met several members of Officers for Justice , which had successfully sued the city in to increase diversity on the force.

They urged Williams to sign up. The pay was about the same as her hotel position, but the benefits were better. Williams loved being able to help her people. The drug trade persisted, of course, and some nights she had to leave her house wearing a robe and carrying her gun to talk to the boys on Third Street. When she first joined the force, she thought OFJ had already won the battle for equality. In , only 55 of 1, officers were black, three were Asian-American, and almost every police chief since the start of the century had been a white, Catholic man. This study considers the perceptions of African American police officers regarding the presence and impact of biased-based policing in their agencies, as well as their perceptions of the positive or negative effects of their presence in these small local police agencies.

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Keywords Black law enforcement officers , racial profiling , bias-based policing , stereotyping , police misconduct , role perception , perception , racism in policing. Remember me Forgotten your password? Subscribe to this journal.

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Variations in perception among police personnel. Black Students at WhiteColleges and Universities The dark figure of racism pp. Williams would send him home, but she never arrested him. The Black police officer: View or edit your browsing history.

Vol 46, Issue 5, Tips on citation download. Minority proximity to whites in suburbs: An individual-level analysis of segregation.

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