What is the solution to tensions between Black communities and police?


By S4CW (32) Young Songwei Palin

The tension between the police and Black communities in the United States has been a topic of debate for the past century. However, with the recent increased amount of attention brought forth from the deaths of people from the Black community such as George Floyd, the topic has skyrocketed in terms of the attention it receives.

The solution to the conflict between police and Black communities is to eliminate the inequality amongst races that have been produced in America’s history, but there are many steps to go through to enable this solution.

First, there needs to be a change of attitude in terms of how police officers treat and view Black people. Police officers usually have a very negative view of Black people, whether it be due to racism or because of a perception of a higher crime rate among the Black community. To change that, there needs to be more interaction between police officers and Black communities, and to do that there need to be more Black policemen or Black policewomen so those White police officers who have a bad impression of the Black community can get to know them better. The problem with this is that most organizations tend to hire people who look like the people who are already working in that certain position. The people who work in jobs usually know if there’s a slot for someone else to work in, and they will usually call either their friends or relatives and they have a higher chance to be hired for the job because they are the first ones to know about that slot. Because the majority of police officers are White, their friends and relatives are often White as well, which means that the next people who continue working as police officers would often be White. This concept is called nepotism. There was a study conducted by the World Economic Forum which showed that nepotism held fairly high influence in places such as the US at around 50%. The use of nepotism makes it difficult to get “new blood” into many police departments around the country.

Another step that can be taken is the increase in community policing. Community policing is basically police officers working in areas where they know or are familiar with the people who live in those places. As a comparison, community policing is similar to having a teacher that you’ve known for a while. Of course, the teacher would still punish you if you did something wrong, but that teacher would also care for you and would want the best for you.  It also makes life easier for the teacher, as the students would know and trust in the teacher, which would increase the likelihood that the students would cooperate with the teacher and listen to what they say. That’s what community policing is like and the benefits it has. In contrast, if there is a police officer who patrols in an area where he or she isn’t familiar with its residents, then they’re more like a substitute teacher. You can tell the person doesn’t care for you and doesn’t treat the different people in the class equally. This can result in biases and unfair treatment. A study by professors at the University of Toronto found that community policing instills more trust in a community. “A common denominator in these, as in all other operations,” the authors noted, “has been the support of our community. When we are proactive and approachable, citizens are more likely to cooperate and support the police.” This is just more reason to implement that type of policing more.

Although anti-racism is central to those solutions, problems like high poverty rates and high crime rates amongst Black people are heavily due to racism. For the example of high poverty rates, there are many factors, but they often relate to racism. For instance, one of the factors is that it’s difficult for Black people to get jobs. There was an experiment where people applied for a job with the same form and resume. The only difference was their name was either stereotypically White or stereotypically Black. In this experiment, White names received 50% more callbacks to interviews, whereas Black people received drastically less. Then, because it’s difficult for Black people to get jobs, it makes it significantly more difficult for Black people to earn money, leading them to poverty. Poverty, as Aristotle said, “is the parent of crime”. It leads people to pursue other, illegal measures because they’re desperate, which raises the crime rates and exacerbates the impression that police officers have of Black people, which then develops into a horrible cycle where Black people are treated unfairly and not given jobs to earn money. In the end, police officers have a bad impression of Black communities, and this can lead them to become more racist.

In conclusion it is difficult to predict whether or not the tension between the Black community and the police will end any time soon. However, if the right steps are taken, there is certainly hope that things can change.