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Belief in the "racist police officer" stereotype may become a self-fulfilling prophecy for law enforcement officers and lead to increased support for forceful or threatening policing tactics, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.
"Officers who were highly concerned about appearing racist reported lower confidence in their moral authority, and that led to them reporting more support for using coercive policing while on the job," said Phillip Atiba Goff, Ph.D., of the Center for Policing Equity and John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He is co-author of the study published in Law and Human Behavior. "Interestingly, both white and non-white officers were equally likely to be concerned about appearing racist. The potential negative influence of stereotype threats such as the 'racist police officer' should be a concern to all officers and communities."
Tensions - US - Law - Enforcement - Public
Given the current tensions in the U.S. between law enforcement and the public, and notably with racial and ethnic minorities, Goff and his colleagues wanted to better understand how pervasive stereotypes influence officers and how they approach members of their community.
"Police are typically trained to use their moral authority as peace officers to resolve conflicts, but if that moral authority is called into question, they may feel they have limited tools to gain compliance, leading to more harmful actions with potentially disastrous results," said Rick Trinkner, Ph.D., of Arizona State University, the study's lead author.
Researchers - Patrol - Officers - Sergeants - Patrol
The researchers surveyed 784 patrol officers and sergeants from the patrol division of a large urban police force. Over eight weeks, they attended patrol roll call at every station within the department to distribute and collect the surveys. Respondents were 80% male, nearly all were patrol officers and just over half of the sample reported being white. On average, the officers were in their early 40s and had 14 years of experience.
The survey asked...
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