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Public Perceptions of Crime Analysis Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Sep 21st, 2022

Introduction

Police processes and crime rates are critical in understanding the safety measures put in place by communities. On the same note, the collaboration of the public and the police have an impact on perceptions of safety, crime and policing processes. In the US, attitudes among the public on the policing processes are diverse. Interestingly, the perceptions also differ among people in the same community unit. Dooley and Rydberg (2014) explain that differences, at an individual level, have contributed to the different perceptions the communities have about policing systems. The essay looks into how people perceive the police based on their own individual experiences. The essay will take into account interviews done with two case studies on the same. The two case studies that were identified for the assignment were of a 52-year-old pastor and a 69-year-old widow from Acres Homes community.

Biodata of the Two Interviewees

A 52-year-old pastor in a local church in Acres Homes community is the first interviewee. The pastor, referred in this document as interviewee 1, was born and raised in the said community. The 52-year-old has three brothers and an equal number of sisters. Growing up, the family was poor, just like other black families in the area. The pastor’s father was a casual worker in the steel mill while the mother was a stay=at-home mom. Apart from ministering to the congregation, the pastor also served as an elementary and middle school teacher for 17 years.

On the other hand, the second interviewee, a 69-year-old Caucasian widow, has lived in the community for the last half-century. The old lady, referenced in the essay as interviewee 2, relocated to the neighborhood with her family and later got married there. Unfortunately, 15 years ago, her husband of 20 years passed away due to lung cancer. She has been raising their six children as a single mother since the demise of her husband. While her husband was still alive, the couple bought a comfortable three-bedroom wood-frame house in which the widow presently lives alone as her children have all moved out. Although the old woman was a stay-at-home mom before, her husband’s illness forced her to look for work. In the last 30 years, she has worked as a cafeteria cook but retired six years ago. The mother of six is currently very active in the community and also serves as the head of the female congregation in their local church. She also loves shopping and visiting her children. Overall, the $480 she receives every month as her pension is sufficient for her basic needs.

Perceptions Shared

The two interviewees were asked a series of similar questions, and interestingly, in many instances, their answers and perceptions were different. Regarding class background, Interviewee 1 acknowledged that he was in the middle-class category while Interviewee 2 explained that she was in the lower upper class. In the same breath, whereas interviewee 1 stated that he is non-partisan in political issues, interviewee 2 indicated that she is very active in the political setup of the community. In regards to the community’s safety concerns, both respondents agreed that the crime rate had gone up.

However, interviewee 1 was of the opinion that the police were not doing enough to make the neighborhood safe as they kept targeting innocent teenagers who have been profiled due to their skin color. Interviewee 2, on the other hand, felt that the police were not doing enough to make the neighborhood safe due to their lack of resources and suggested that the state government fund the police departments better. It is interesting to note that while interviewee 2 did not feel safe in her community, and thought public places were also unsafe, interview 1 was of the opposite opinion.

Regarding the policing questions, interview 1 felt that the police did not treat suspects fairly and made decisions based on racial prejudice. To the pastor, black Americans were unfairly blamed for the high crime rate in the community. On the other hand, to interviewee 2, the race was a non-issue in the policy processes. The two interviewees agreed that the community, in general, had a bad perception of the police and that the police did not relate to the community at all. On the same note, both interviewees stated that they would not report a crime to the police as they felt like crimes were not solved reasonably (quoting their reasons as to why the police were not doing enough to make the neighborhood safe).

Comparison of Perceptions

Analyzing the responses of the interviewees it can be argued that the answers were based on political affiliations, individual and professional experiences, prior involvements and social prestige. Interviewee 1 perceived himself as being in the lower social class. Wallace (2015) and Cox (2012) argue that people weigh several elements, not just wealth when describing their social status. It can be argued that the interviewees used other social factors, such as their race to describe their social status. For example, interviewee 1, being a black American, was of the opinion that black Americans were mistreated by the police. Therefore, his perception is that police systems favor Caucasians based on their skin color. They are, therefore, by the said definition ‘superior.’ On the other hand, interviewee 2 is Caucasians and does not acknowledge the unfairness experienced by black Americans.

Application to Public Safety Policy

The different perceptions shared by interviewee 1 and 2 reveal a lot about the police systems and how they relate to people. Due to this, the same perceptions can be applied to enhance public safety. For instance, law enforcement can use the responses that were shared to build a relationship with the community. Whereas the interviewees had different reasons for not trusting the police and the justice system, they agreed that the said systems were inefficient. Also, the said responses can be used to craft ethical strategies on how to engage the different cultural groups that are in the community and encourage a culture of transparency and inclusivity.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it can be argued that perceptions of police and crime differ from one person to another, albeit being in the same community, due to personal experiences and social status, among other factors. It is essential for police to understand how the different perceptions held by community members were arrived at, and use the data collected to create viable solutions that ensure better service provision. It is possible that such actions can help change policies on policing, and not only save lives that are lost due to police brutality but also assist the police departments in the different states to relate better with the public.

References

Cox, P. (2012). History and global criminology. British Journal of Criminology, 52(1), 17-31.

Dooley, B. D., & Rydberg, J. (2014). Irreconcilable differences? Examining divergences in the orientations of criminology and criminal justice scholarship, 1951–2008. Journal of Criminal Justice Education, 25(1), 84-105.

Wallace, D. (2015). A test of the routine activities and neighborhood attachment explanations for bias in disorder perceptions. Crime & Delinquency, 61(4), 587-609.

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