June 12, 2014
Policing in a Multicultural Society
Racial profiling, racism, gender bias, and discrimination against homosexuals have been going on for hundreds to thousands of years ago. Racial profiling, for example involves recognizing individuals as suspects based merely upon race, has existed in society since groups of different backgrounds began interacting. The relatively short history of the United States is filled with accounts of racial profiling, not the least of which involves the Anglo settlers confronting Native Americans prior to and following the Revolutionary War (McNamara, R. H., & Burns, R. G. 2009). It has only recently been the topic of much discussion from a research and policy standpoint, particularly in light of accounts of African American motorists being targeted by police in large cities such as Los Angeles, California. The history between the African American population and the police in Los Angeles has been anything but nice; The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has a long history of being accused of violence and mistreatment of minorities. This behavior is difficult to measure in a city that has been ridden with crime and is home to over 450 violent street gangs.
Over the years the city has tried to initiate “Community Policing” tactics to improve crime control and reduce the communities hatred towards the police. The department has a rich history of hiring minority officers, which seems to have had no affect on their relationship with the black community. In 1916, Policewoman Georgia Ann Robinson became the first African-American female officer. In 1992 Willie L. Williams became the first African-American Chief of Police followed by Bernard C. Parks as the second African-American Chief of Police in 1997. In April 2000, Ann Young became the first African-American female Captain, and in 2010, Regina Scott was appointed as the first African-American female Commander in the history of our Department (LAPDonline.org). According to the LAPD, approximately 60 percent of officers are from minority groups and an article published in 2009, claims that the majority of Los Angeles residents were happy with the changes in the police department. Today, I would say that the tension between the LAPD and the residents has subsided slightly. This may be due to stricter policy enforcement and more cultural diversity training. Los Angeles will always be a tough place to work as a police officer.
I think several police and court actions in the past have affected the way police interact today with the public, especially minorities. Technology, such as video recording of police brutality, coupled with the lack of the public knowledge of how tough police work really is in any jurisdiction is one of the main causes of controversy. People will see a video tape and of an officer hitting a suspect and