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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 76028 Find in a Library
Title: Class Nature of the Urban Police During the Period of Black Municipal Power
Journal: Crime and Social Justice  Volume:9  Dated:(Spring/Summer 1978)  Pages:49-61
Author(s): E Greer
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 13
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The nature and causes of police resistance to black urban mayors are explored, using Gary, Ind., as an example.
Abstract: Opposition of police officers to black mayors is not so much a manifestation of working class racism as an outgrowth of the police role in American society. The American police developed from the propertied rather than the working classes, and they tend to protect the interests of that class. They are often small-scale entrepreneurs integrated into ethnic political machines dominated by local business interests. Their political and social views are lower middle class, and black mayors are perceived by them as an assault on their class interests, their ideology, and their professional privileges. In Gary, as in other cities, police objected to the black mayoral candidate's promise to indignant black ghetto dwellers that he would end police corruption and increase the number of minority police officers. As a result of white officers' attitudes, newly recruited black officers have suffered discrimination in petty ways (e.g., their patrol cars were poorly maintained). Also, blacks and Spanish-speaking minorities were slow to rise to positions of authority. Still another cause of conflict between the black community and the police department is the question of police brutality. Little has been done to prosecute police brutality cases against blacks. Civil service regulations effectively shield police officers from disciplinary measures, and not even the mayor can influence the independent police civil service commission. On the whole, black mayors have proved largely irrelevant to structural changes of local police functions. Nevertheless, the 'blackening' of the urban police has the potential of altering the police class orientation. Black officers tend to represent the working class and are rarely asociated with ethnic political machines. Black police officers are thus likely to serve the community that they represent, gaining sympathy for police activities in the black community. Eventually, local police departments in cities with black mayors will come to serve the class interests of the particular community. Sixty-eight reference notes are supplied.
Index Term(s): Black/African Americans; Complaints against police; Indiana; Police attitudes; Police Brutality; Police community relations; Police corruption; Police effectiveness; Police-minority relations; Race relations; Racial discrimination; Radical criminology; Recruitment; Social classes; Urban policing
Note: Earlier version of this article was presented at the Social Science Seminar at the Institute for Advanced Study, April 14, 1976.
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