Body Cam Study Shows That Police Speak Less Respectfully To Blacks Than Whites

Racism and profiling are two very controversial issues that oftentimes have polarizing opinions. While the concept of white privilege is overlooked by many, the ones who have experienced this in their personal lives are indeed passionate about this happening and being exposed. Still, numerous debates happen regarding this subject, with no desire to develop and understand rather than prove one’s moot point.

With the string of police shootings involving black people over the past few years, numerous movements, both locally and nationally, have been very vocal about social justice and equal treatment toward the African-American community. Although some protesting becomes riotous and extremely counterproductive toward the end goal, others actually seek to partner with the task force in order to increase the level of respect towards both parties, as well as the decrease of crime for African Americans.

Although a significant portion of this oftentimes acrimonious relationship is stemmed from blatant disrespect toward the officer, police personnel are surely not off the hook. In fact, thorough training needs to be done concerning the overall reason why police treat blacks in general differently when having a conversation.

CNN released a recent study of how police treat people based on certain communities. The study was done in Oakland, California, and involved taking 183 hours of camera footage from 981 routine traffic stops by 245 different officers from Oakland in 2014. According to the report, 312 utterances were spoken to black community members, and 102 utterances were spoken to white communities for volunteers to analyze. Each response was rated by at least 10 volunteers, who did not know the names or races of the police officers or the community members.

The computer measurements were based on the police using more respectful terms, such as “yes/no sir/ma’am,” “sorry to stop you,” and “drive safe, please.” The less respectful terms were also measured, such as “man” (i.e. “All right, man. My name is officer…”) and “do me a favor” (i.e. “Do me favor. Put your hands on the steering quick right quick.”).

The results are as follows.

“After analyzing all of their data, the researchers found that white community members were 57% more likely to hear an officer say one of the most respectful utterances in the dataset, such as apologizing. Whereas, black community members were 61% more likely to hear an officer say one of the least respectful utterances, such as informal titles.”

The concept of community policing has proven to be a very positive step for both the police and largely black communities to gain a mutual respect for each other. As displayed in the CNN television series United Shades of America, when police do more interacting with low socio-economic communities, the focus becomes more on strong rapport and less on defiance and rebellion toward authority.

In speaking with police officers regarding community policing, host W. Kamau Bell received pertinent information that could assist with bridging the gap between civilians and officers.

One of the officers stated that being from Camden is a major asset because it creates a stronger bond with the community instead of someone patrolling neighborhoods who is not from the area. As a result, a greater level of understanding can develop from interacting with the culture more, which would reduce any judgment or bias since the officer understands the struggles of the community.

Moreover, it builds a level of “street cred” when the officer spends more time conversing with members of the community about everyday life, as opposed to a conversation with a police officer being interpreted as something negative.

While there is still a steep hill to climb regarding the officer-civilian relationship, specifically in the black community, resolutions such as community policing and socio-psychological training are significantly positive steps in the process.

[Featured Image by Rich Pedroncelli/AP Images]