Race, Ethnicity, and Policing: New and Essential Readings

By Stephen K. Rice; Michael D. White Roberts | Go to book overview

Introduction

Stephen K. Rice and Michael D. White

Information is readily available to us. Where shall wisdom be found?

Irrespective of limitations in the perspectives employed in extant scholarship (e.g., criminological, legalistic, economic), methodological shortcomings in assessing police profiling and bias (e.g., determining benchmarks, or “denominators”), or arguments regarding the appropriate framing of deeply felt cultural subtexts (e.g., Amadou Diallo, the Jena Six, Sean Bell, Abner Louima, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Genarlow Wilson, Jean Charles de Menezes, FBI interviews of Muslim Americans, the depiction of undocumented immigrants as criminal aliens), at day's end the study of race, ethnicity, and policing centers on whether police tend to respond to ascribed characteristics, to situations, or to a combination thereof as they do their jobs. This determination is critical to understanding the “social location” of police and the conditions under which the public choose to defer to, or to defy, authority.

Race, Ethnicity, and Policing: New and Essential Readings is structured to provide the reader with requisite knowledge in four areas that are critical to answering these questions. First, “The Context” provides an overview of key propositions from criminology, social psychology, sociology, and the law that are important in understanding possible typifications (categorizations) of “symbolic assailants” by police, how race and ethnicity are more nuanced than their treatment in most existing scholarship, how perceived procedural justice shapes public support for police and the effective rule of law, how early questions about “driving while black” and “driving while brown” entered the public lexicon, and how courts and legislatures have responded to claims of racial and ethnic bias in policing. Second, “The Methods” introduces the reader to the major techniques that have been utilized in the study of race/ethnicity, bias, and policing (i.e., quantitative, qualitative, visual) and provides an overview of current measurement and analysis controversies and recommendations for ways forward. Third, “The Research” immerses the reader in empirical scholarship spanning the methodological (e.g., the need for multiple data sources at multiple levels of analysis), the definitional (e.g., expanding conceptions of race/ethnicity beyond black and white toward intra-ethnic, intra-racial continua), and the behavioral (e.g., broadening the range of police activities that warrant examination). Finally, “The Future”

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