SEXISM & RACISM IN LAW ENFORCEMENT
The issues of diversity and multiculturalism are important topics in policing, and can be approached in different ways. Nationally, blacks only make up 12% of all sworn officers (20% in large metropolitan cities, which also have 14% Hispanics and 4% other), and women only make up 13% of law enforcement nationwide (16% in large cities). These are token levels, and it's also safe to say minorities and women are underutilized and under-promoted. Some experts have said that policing, following the military, is the world's most racist and sexist organization, but it's debatable over whether that's deliberate or not, intent being a key element of racism and sexism, unless recourse is made to improbable concepts like latent or institutional racism.
America's sixty-two largest cities (those with populations over 250,000) have ethnic minority populations that average 60% or more of the residents in those cities. The police departments that serve those cities only have 38%, at most, of their force belonging to an ethnic minority group, and the percentages of women in policing are not much higher regardless of whether it's a large city or not. Qualifications may be an issue, since only 14% of America's largest police departments require a 4-year college degree, and 37% of them require at least "some college." The average starting salary for entry-level patrol work is $35,000 a year, but, in order of most frequent, there is shift differential pay, education incentive pay, hazardous duty pay, and merit pay. Besides, most police officers make plenty of extra money "moonlighting." Perhaps it's not the pay; perhaps it's the sexism and racism-saturated culture of police work. Let's explore that hypothesis for a moment.
It may very well be that police culture is more sexist than racist, but then, that may be because the culture is more explicit regarding its views of women. Certainly, times have changed, but take a look at these Police Calendar photos from the mid-70's and early 80's, as they are typical of the images by which women were portrayed in police work, at least in those days.
POLICING is the 2nd most sexist organization in the world. The Navy is first because their reporting rate for sexual harassment is 90%. The reporting rate for policing is about 66%. That's looking at all complaints that come in about supervisors in the course of a year and calculating what percentage of them are related to sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment is defined as any unwelcome advance or conduct that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment. This definition means that there are two (2) types of sexual harassment:
(1) quid pro quo -- a straightforward unwelcome advance; you do
something for me, I'll do something for you. This is the most common form of
(2) hostile working environment -- the more commonly seen sexualized atmosphere at work, in the locker room, or at clubs. This is the most common form of racial discrimination.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the area where claims of racism and sexism are made. In order to prove hostile work environment, a plaintiff must show (1) unwelcome harassment; (2) based on race; (3) which is so severe and pervasive that it alters the conditions of employment and creates an abusive atmosphere; and (4) some basis for imputing liability to the employer. Courts use a totality of circumstances test to see whether the actions were severe or pervasive enough to alter the conditions of employment or create an abusive atmosphere.
Although these numbers are astonishing, ever more so is the fact that only 11% of all policewomen report it, and even less (3%) are willing to continue pursuing the matter through formal channels. Here's some common female reactions: 50% ignored it; 25% took sick leave; 15% resigned; and 10% just dropped their work productivity.
Women report that they feel locked into one of 4 roles that
policemen will let them play:
(1) mother role -- be sympathetic, bake cakes, provide comfort
(2) sex object role -- be alluring, motivate men to do their best
(3) pet or kid sister -- stay home, be a cheerleader, nonthreatening
(4) butch role -- be more of a man, a GI Jane
Kanter's (1993) theory of tokenism:
More psychological harassment if minority group is >15%
More physical harassment if minority group is <15%
Racism can take many forms. It can show up in:
(1) Deployment patterns -- where a supervisor will assume that just because the officer is of the same minority as the residents of some neighborhood that they should be assigned to that neighborhood. Residents in minority neighborhoods also say that their area is overpoliced, by both white and black officers.
(2) Arrest statistics -- black males have a lifetime probability of arrest of 51% while white males only a 14% probability.
(3) Prejudice during encounter -- black officers are involved in more encounters that involve violence (22%) than white officers (13%)
(4) Police brutality -- off duty incidents are higher for black officers, they receive more citizen complaints, and they say the review process is racist also
(5) Deadly force -- 60% of those killed by police are black, but income inequality, not number of "hot shots" assigned to high-crime areas, is the best predictor of police violence.
Affirmative action programs can exist in a variety
(1) preferential hiring -- 10 pts or 20pts added to eligibility or selection score
(2) the 4/5ths rule -- 4/5ths is 80%, this is the required acceptance rate for minorities, 80% of whites
(3) Racial composition of community - these are various 5 year plans, tied into the demographic changes taking place. Here's a typical plan:
|Race||Year 1||year 2||YEAR 3||YEAR 4||YEAR 5|
African American Culture
Halt Hate. com
International Association of Women Police
Ken Hamblin, Radio Show Personality
Links for Course on Discrimination
Tolerance. org's Implicit Association Test (find out if you're a racist)
Where Racism and Sexism Coincide
Collins, P. & Scarborough, K. (2001). Women in Public and Private Law Enforcement. NY: Butterworth Heinemann.
Jurik, N. & S. Martin. (1996). Doing Justice, Doing Gender: Women in Law and Criminal Justice Occupations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Kanter, R. (1993). Men and Women of the Corporation. NY: Basic Books.
MacDonald, H. (2003). Are Cops Racist? NY: Ivan Dee.
Martin, S. (1980). Breaking and Entering: Policewomen on Patrol. Berkeley: Univ. of CA Press.
Reaves, B. & M. Hickman (2002). Police Departments in Large Cities. BJS Special Report NCJ 175703.
Russell, K. (1999). The Color of Crime: Racial Hoaxes, White Fear, Black Protectionism, Police Harassment, and Other Macroaggressions. NY: NYU Press. [Sample Pages]
Last updated: 01/06/04
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