How might ethnocentrism, stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination impact professional police practices?
The stereotypes and discriminative tendencies can impact police practices on two levels. First, they can disrupt the integrity and ethical soundness of individual cases if a particular officer is biased towards certain racial or ethnic prejudices. Second, some of the organizational practices observable in the current law enforcement institution can trigger discriminative behavior. The latter is especially dangerous as it will most likely not be recognized as a bias – rather, it will be perceived as an authorized course of action. For instance, racial profiling often results in misjudging the level of danger of encounter based on the race of the perpetrator. Similarly, the ethnocentrism will likely strengthen the ingroup identification but distance the officers from the community, contributing to the antagonistic setting, or “us versus them” perception.
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Probably the most effective way of dealing with prejudice is through education and exposure. The encounters with the representatives of ethnic and racial group representatives who do not fit the stereotypical profile are particularly helpful. Both options depend heavily on the organizational policies rather than on individual efforts. The review of current training programs is also recommended for detection and elimination of the points which may lead to stereotypes and ethnocentrism.
Affirmative Action Myths
My first concern is with myth 8, debunking the loss of self-esteem of the discriminated population. First, by stating that there exists evidence to the contrary, the author implies that the notion is disproved, while in fact, it means that some (unspecified) part of the target population experiences an improvement in self-esteem. Besides, his claim that in many cases self-esteem can improve is not confirmed by the research, and the surveys which show the improbability of adverse psychological effects are outdated. The psychological side of affirmative action can have serious consequences, so turning away from the issue after such a brief and unsubstantiated take on the subject is unacceptable.
Myth 10 may also be relying on faulty argumentation. It is true that the federal regulations explicitly prohibit the selection of unqualified candidates over the qualified ones who belong to the indiscriminate majority. However, in the same manner, we can dismiss myths 1 and 3, which assume today’s goodwill and commitment to the law. If we readily admit that discrimination is still present in society, we must also agree that reverse discrimination is possible as a form of abusing affirmative action. Again, the issue needs to be monitored rather than dismissed.
Current Status of Women and Minorities in Policing
The EEO and the Affirmative Action have targeted the police structures with special attention. As a result, many regulations were established, and more women have been reported to be employed in the field. However, the current fraction of female officers is still low. This is consistent with my observation but, more importantly, is reported by all the sources I have consulted. On the other hand, the organizational side of policing has sustained several drawbacks.
For instance, the EEO requires a certain number of female employees in policing, and when the requirements are not met, issues serious penalties. At the same time, the employment rates are not controlled solely by the organization (e.g. there can be insufficient applicants), which puts the management at a disadvantage and creates the possibility of favoring less qualified individuals based on their gender.
Another issue is the racial quotas, which were cited as the most aggressive affirmative action manifestation but have not resulted in the slightest changes in minority employment for the past nine years. This essentially means that while affirmative action and EEO are necessary and have a positive impact in the long run, they are currently responsible for at least some issues in policing and require attention.