NY Landscape

NYPD: Racism And Its Affect On Police Misconduct

police racism

The repeated shootings of unarmed African Americans like Eric Gardner, Michael Brown and, most recently Tony Robinson have put police and their policies under major scrutiny from the American public and American law makers. Now two prominent figures in law enforcement are now speaking out about deep-seated racism and police bias. F.B.I. Director James B. Comey and New York City Police Officer William J. Bratton spoke separately, about the topic of racial tensions between the black community and police officers. The talks come after the release of Jennifer L. Eberhart’s MacArthur “genius” award winning study “Discrimination and Implicit Bias in Racially Unequal Society”.

New York City Police Commissioner Bratton gave his speech in Greater Allen A.M.E. Church of New York in Jamaica, Queens. Referencing the issues of race and bias in New York City Police Department, “when officers see the same young men committing almost all of this city’s violence it carries a risk of turning into bias” the NYPD commissioner then went on to say “I do not deny that it exists” referencing unjust practices by police officers. Mr. Bratton expressed faith that this is not a wide spread problem within the force, and that it is only a few bad apples that spoil the barrel.

F.B.I. director James B. Comey took a deeper approach to his comments on racism. “All of us in law enforcement must be honest enough to acknowledge that much of our history is not pretty. At many points in American history law enforcement enforced the status quo, a status quo that was often brutally unfair to disfavored groups”. Mr. Comey’s approach took a strong yet smart position, not just blaming law enforcement, but also rather looking at the larger issues at work, “in environments lacking role models, adequate education and decent employment”. Showing that the way to fix this problem going forward is not as simple as plugging one hole in a sinking ship, but rebuilding it, so we can sail to a safer and more prosperous America.

The New York Times published an article on a study “Discrimination and Implicit Bias in Racially Unequal Society” by Jennifer L. Eberhart, an associate professor of psychology at Stafford University, which underlines and brings into focus many of the underlying racial tensions currently felt. Ms. Eberhart’s study showed that, subjects after “seeing a lot of black faces created a perceptual readiness to detect crime-related objects”. In a second test where subjects were to respond with a “shoot” or “don’t shoot” option, “It turns out that if they are shown a black person with a gun, they’ll respond with "Shoot" faster than when flashed the image of a white person with a gun. People are more likely to mistakenly respond with "Shoot" to a black person with no gun than to a white person with no gun.” Ms. Eberhart’s study shows that the problem we are dealing with is much deeper than it appears. It is not as simple as asking “are you racist?”

If you have been beaten up by the cops or the victim of police brutality, police misconduct, excessive force or false arrest by NYPD, please get in touch with the attorneys at PetersonDelleCave LLP.

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