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«Racially Biased Policing Racially Biased Policing: A Principled Response Lorie Fridell, Robert Lunney, Drew Diamond and Bruce Kubu with Michael Scott ...»

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Racially Biased Policing

Racially Biased Policing:

A Principled Response

Lorie Fridell, Robert Lunney,

Drew Diamond and Bruce Kubu

with Michael Scott and Colleen Laing



The research reported here was conducted through the Police

Executive Research Forum and funded by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services under grant 1999-CK-WXThe points of view expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services or the Police Executive Research Forum or its members.

Police Executive Research Forum, Washington, D.C. 20036 Published 2001.

Printed in the United States of America Library of Congress Number 01-132420 ISBN 1-878734-73-3 Cover art by Kittner Design Interior design by Elliot Thomas Grant, etg Design Contents Acknowledgments


I. Critical Issues in Racially Biased Policing

II. Police and Citizen Perceptions

III. Accountability and Supervision

IV. A Policy To Address Racially Biased Policing and the Perceptions Thereof

V. Recruitment and Hiring

VI. Education and Training

VII. Minority Community Outreach

VIII. Data Collection on Citizens’ Race/Ethnicity To Address Racially Biased Policing and the Perceptions Thereof


About the Authors

About the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS)

About PERF

Related PERF Titles

vi Racially Biased Policing: A Principled Response Acknowledgments The PERF project team is especially grateful to the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) for determining the need for this undertaking, and for providing both funding and guidance. Particular thanks go to Ellen Scrivner, deputy director, who served as our project monitor. She was actively involved in the project at all stages, providing muchvalued ideas, guidance and support. We are grateful to previous COPS Office directors Joe Brann and Tom Frazier, and to Acting Director Ralph Justus, for their vital support. We also extend our thanks to Tamara Clark for her characteristically professional assistance in attending to the seemingly endless details involved.

We also express our great appreciation to the project advisory board, who provided able guidance to the project team.

This group comprised a diverse group of law enforcement practitioners, community activists, civil rights leaders, and academics. We brought this group together to be sure that we heard and considered all competing viewpoints. The recommendations herein are not necessarily endorsed by each individual member of this group: Lynn Bataglia, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Baltimore; Chief David Bejarano, San Diego Police Department;

the Rev. Jeffery Brown, Union Baptist Church, Cambridge, Mass.; Commissioner Patrick Carroll, New Rochelle (N.Y.) Police Department; John Crew, ACLU of Northern California; Richard Green, Crown Heights Youth Collective, Brooklyn, N.Y.;

Colonel Charles Hall, Florida Highway Patrol; J. Howard Henderson, Baltimore Urban League; Pat Hoven, Corporate Community Partnerships; Chief Harold Hurtt, Phoenix Police Department; Deborah Jeon, ACLU of Maryland; Chief Jerry viii Racially Biased Policing: A Principled Response Oliver, Richmond (Va.) Police Department; Chief Robert Olson, Minneapolis Police Department; Richard Roberts, International Union of Police Associations; Annette Sandberg, former chief, Washington State Patrol; Robert Stewart, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives; and Samuel Walker, University of Nebraska-Omaha.

We extend our thanks to the more than 1,000 law enforcement executives who responded to our survey, many of whom forwarded department materials for our review and consideration. We thank, as well, other practitioners around the nation who forwarded materials to us or called us with input, ideas and advice. We very much appreciate the insights provided to us by the citizens and sworn personnel from across the country who participated in the project focus groups. Their input was critical to identifying the key issues, as well as to developing the proposed agency responses.

In addition, we extend our appreciation to subject-matter experts from around the country whom the authors engaged in discussions or who reviewed and provided valuable input on drafts of various chapters. These experts include sworn police personnel, constitutional scholars, law enforcement counsel, academics, and civil rights activists. While we will not name them all here, particular thanks go to Chief Larry Austin, professor David Carter, Sgt. Don Grinder, professor David Harris, Richard Jerome, Chief Gil Kerlikowske, professor Robert McNamara, Assistant Chief Timothy Oettmeier, Mark Posner, professor Margo Schlanger, Dennis Slocumb, Deputy Chief Mark Spurrier, Detective Clarence Woody, and Alicia Zatcoff. These individuals do not necessarily endorse the recommendations herein.

We are also very grateful to Martha Plotkin and David Edelson of PERF for their able, patient and professional assistance in editing and producing this document. We thank Jim Burack and Rebecca Neuburger of PERF for reviewing chapters and for overseeing the development of the project website, respectively.

Suzanne Fregly greatly improved the document with her able editing. Finally, we express our appreciation to Chuck Wexler of PERF for his ongoing support, guidance and leadership.

Foreword The vast majority of law enforcement officers—of all ranks, nationwide—are dedicated men and women committed to serving all citizens with fairness and dignity. The Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) shares their intolerance for racially biased policing, and hopes Racially Biased Policing: A Principled Response will enhance citizen and police efforts to detect and eradicate it. Addressing racially biased policing, and the perceptions of its practice, involve complex issues and challenges.

PERF members and their colleagues need to effectively allocate their limited agency resources to address the problem. PERF, with funding and guidance from the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, has prepared this report to assist agencies in meeting this challenge. This report is meant to provide the first step in assisting progressive police professionals—in partnership with citizens—to seriously consider the issues and develop approaches tailored to their community’s unique needs. It guides law enforcement professionals in their response to racially biased policing and, equally important, to the perceptions of its practice, to strengthen citizen confidence in the police and improve services to all our communities.

The issues involved in “racial profiling” and racially biased policing are not new—they are the latest manifestation of a long history of sometimes tense, and even volatile, police-minority relations. This need not be viewed, however, as proof of the problem’s intractability. Police are more capable than ever of effectively addressing police racial bias. In the past few decades, there has been a revolution in the quality and quantity of police training, the standards for hiring officers, the procedures x Racially Biased Policing: A Principled Response and accountability regarding police activity, and the widespread adoption of community policing.

There is no single cure for the problems underlying racially biased policing, and you will not find any definitive one here.

This report summarizes some of the latest thinking and efforts across the nation regarding this difficult problem. PERF used many sources to develop the recommendations contained in this report. We conducted a national survey of more than 1,000 agency executives, reviewed the materials of more than 250 agencies, spoke with citizens and practitioners in a series of focus groups held around the country, conducted a literature review, and conferred with subject-matter experts in various topic areas. PERF also integrated comments from discussions among chiefs at PERF national meetings. In addition, this project greatly benefited from the guidance of an advisory board composed of respected law enforcement agency executives, Justice Department personnel, community activists, and civil rights leaders.

These sources helped PERF identify six key response areas:

department accountability and supervision, policy, recruitment and hiring, education and training, minority community outreach, and data collection. PERF believes important and meaningful changes can occur within each of these areas. Of course, the contents of this report cannot allay long-standing policeminority tensions. Clearly, resolving racial bias in law enforcement, as in society at large, will require long-term dedication and innovation. We hope this report will help agencies continue on that path.

There are key themes underlying the recommendations we have developed. First, racially biased policing is at its core a human rights issue. While some may view it as merely a public relations problem, a political issue or an administrative challenge, in the final analysis, racially biased policing is antithetical to democratic policing. Protecting individual rights is not an inconvenience for modern police; it is the foundation of policing in a democratic society. Second, racially biased policing is not solely a “law enforcement problem,” but rather a problem that can be solved only through police-citizen partnerships based on mutual trust and respect. We provide guidance for Foreword xi forming such partnerships in this report. Third, police personnel around the country want to respond effectively to local and national concerns regarding racially biased policing. It is to these personnel that we dedicate this report. We must support their efforts to address racially biased policing and, in so doing, help them serve, protect and defend all citizens with the highest professional values and standards.

We will surely benefit from the experience of departments that translate the recommendations we provide into action, and from the new ideas generated in the process. We hope this report will advance the approaches to and national debate on racially biased policing. The result will be a fair and dignified system of justice for us all.

Chuck Wexler PERF Executive Director xii Racially Biased Policing: A Principled Response I Critical Issues in Racially Biased Policing


American policing is facing a tremendous challenge—a widespread perception that the police are routinely guilty of bias in how they treat racial minorities. This comes at a time when crime rates have fallen almost everywhere in recent years, and when the police might otherwise be celebrating their contribution to reducing crime and creating safe communities. Instead, the police find themselves baffled and defensive.

Racial and ethnic minorities constitute a substantial and growing segment of the U.S. population. Strength is in diversity, and we look to minority communities to participate fully in all aspects of society. Police are now looking to the public for partnerships and collaborative problem-solving solutions to community ills. If substantial segments of the community are the victims of police bias, or even perceive that they are, the likelihood of success is dim. We all know that racial profiling is unacceptable and is at variance with the standards and values inherent in ensuring fair and dignified police response to all. We believe that the vast majority of law enforcement in this country are hard-working men and women who are committed to serving all members of our communities with equity and dignity. Yet the challenges of addressing racially biased policing, and perceptions thereof, clearly indicate that police must do more to address the concerns of minority citizens.

2 Racially Biased Policing: A Principled Response The Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), with funding from the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, developed this report as a reference to help police leaders respond to the issues associated with racial profiling. The acknowledgments attest to the extensive participation of police leaders, academics, civil rights activists and others.

THE STORIES Many minorities believe that the police routinely stop and search them because of their skin color. The evidence of this belief is found first in “stories,” and the stories are legion. Many of these recounted tales ring with authenticity; they are compelling and devastating in their impact on people’s lives. Racial bias distorts attitudes toward civil authority and the police, and blights the quality of everyday life. In addition to actual bias, a strong and ingrained perception of bias is a substantial barrier to full enjoyment of freedom and civil rights. It colors every aspect of life for minorities. At its root, bias is a denial of justice.

These are accounts of people who have been stopped by police on questionable grounds and subjected to disrespectful behavior, intrusive questioning and disregard for their civil rights. The storytellers come from all walks of life: they are young men and women, the elderly, people from the middle and upper classes, professional athletes, lawyers, doctors, and police officers at every rank.

This is how it goes:

• A young black woman, in desperation, finally trades her new sports car for an older model because police have repeatedly stopped her on suspicion of possession of a stolen vehicle.

• An elderly African-American couple returning from a social event in formal dress are stopped and questioned at length, allegedly because their car resembles one identified in a robbery.

• A prominent black lawyer driving a luxury car is frequently stopped on various pretexts.

Critical Issues in Racially Biased Policing 3

• A Hispanic deputy police chief is stopped numerous times in neighboring jurisdictions, apparently on “suspicion.”

• A young Hispanic man working evening shift drives home on the same route five nights a week after midnight, and is stopped for suspicious behavior almost every night.

• A black judge far removed from her home jurisdiction is stopped, handcuffed and laid facedown on the pavement while police search her car. They issue no citations.

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