Bias In Police Force

Jonas Bromley


Bias In Police Force

When making arrests police officers in the United States are unfairly biased towards minority races. During 1995-1997 in Maryland, there was a court mandate for a poll to be taken on interstate ninety five, counting the number of african american drivers pulled over versus the amount of white drivers pulled over. Only twelve point seven percent of drivers on the road were african american and sixty percent of the drivers pulled over were african american. This means that even though the ratio of black to white drivers was almost nine to one, even though three fifths of the drivers pulled over were black. This shows how biased american police officers are. There are many more cases in our society that demonstrate the same results.

In the documentary Central Park Five, five teenagers, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson,  Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, and Korey Wise,  ranging in ages from fourteen to sixteen were out in Central Park one night with a bunch of friends. These five teens were with a group of people who were harassing pedestrians and beating up random people. These five are only guilty of these crimes by association. On the same night a jogger got brutally raped while jogging in central park. The police arrested a bunch of the teens who were out that night including the five who this documentary is about. They made a bunch of the teens say that certain people had committed these crimes just because the police wanted people to blame. These five teens were forced by the police to turn themselves and each other in, giving false testimonies. When telling these testimonies they were told to put themselves in the scene to make it more believable. They were told by the police that they were just going to be witnesses, but they were convicted and put on trial.

This case and trial were all over the news, but strangely enough a rape case that had happened just before this one had had gotten next to no publicity. In this case a woman was raped and then thrown off the roof of a building! The reason that this case had almost no publicity was that, one reporter speculated, both the victim and the perpetrator were of the same race. So in a city where there was, on average, three murders a day why did this case get so much publicity? The reason the Central Park Five case got so much publicity was because the victim was a white, upperclass, investor, and the rapists were lower class African American and Latino teenagers. This case was completely about race and not actually about the person who had been abused and raped, or the teens who had been wrongly accused and convicted.

In an article on Pbs four people involved in Santa Clara County’s justice system talk about racial unfairness in the judicial system District Attorney Kurt Kumli talks about the differences in treatment between races. He gives a hypothetical example of two teens, from different backgrounds who have committed the same crime. One of the teens is white, upper class and has a mom that doesn’t work. The family says, “I will always be at home and watch him, we will provide for all of the services that he needs, we will make sure he goes to a personal counselor.”  and the judge then says, “Sounds good to me. I will take advantage of these resources. It will not drain on the system. You are out of custody.” You take another teen who does not come from a privileged family, and cannot provide all of these services. These circumstances create the racial disparity. This is a good example of what can happen in cases when there are differences in economic class.

In an article entitled New ACLU Report Finds Overwhelming Racial Bias in Marijuana Arrests, the ACLU report states that in counties with racial disparities people of color are thirty times more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana than whites. These disparities were apparent 10 years ago but are much more pronounced now. Ezekiel Edwards, a member of the ACLU states that, "The war on marijuana has disproportionately been a war on people of color." Ezekiel also states that, "State and local governments have aggressively enforced marijuana laws selectively against Black people and communities, needlessly ensnaring hundreds of thousands of people in the criminal justice system at tremendous human and financial cost." This shows that people think that the government tries to target people of color for some arrests. Which can not be true. This makes things worse because if people believe something is a certain way then they will act on it.

According to another study by the ACLU in Oakland, California: seventy three point five percent of arrests made by the police between 2006 and 2012 are arresting African American boys when they only make up twenty nine point three percent of the population. Also the Oakland School Police Department, over the last two years, has arrested 85 students. Seventy three percent of students arrested were black. None of the students arrested were white. These statistics prove that there is racial bias in arrests in the United States. These arrests are also harmful to the communities they are conducted in because if a person is falsely arrested or arrested for something they should not be arrested for then if it happens to them again it is a longer sentence. Furthermore it will make it harder to find work and get into colleges in the future.

When making arrests police officers in the U.S. are negatively biased towards minority races. Racial bias in the U.S. makes it harder for many people in this country to proceed with their everyday lives. It also contributes to the countries already crowded prisons and wastes the time and money of everybody. Furthermore it could spiral upwards because police officers who are biased towards minorities have more of a reason to be when they see the numbers in jails. This could make them arrest more minorities for unfair reasons which would make higher numbers of minorities in jails and the whole thing would keep going.