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Bias-Based Policing or Good Police Work

I. Bias-Based Policing or Good Police Work?

Officer James and Sergeant Drummond are on surveillance in a strip mall. A detective received an anonymous tip that a credit union might be robbed at 3:00 p.m. The detective also told the patrol division that the person providing the tip is a known drug addict and not at all reliable, but as there has been a string of credit union robberies during the past 2 months, Drummond decides to surveil the area with Officer James.

The main suspects in the robberies are Asians, and the officers have stopped and talked with several Asian people in the area, taking their names and other identifying information. At approximately 2:45 p.m., Drummond and James are notified by Communications that a security officer reported hearing a gunshot in the parking lot of a nearby grocery store where he was working. Because they are nearby and there might be a connection to the credit union robberies, Drummond and James decide to take the call.

On arrival at the scene, the security officer meets the two officers and informs them that he “might have” heard a small-caliber pistol shot in the parking lot; he also believes that a young African American man who walked into the grocery store a few minutes ago might be carrying a gun under his coat.

Evaluation strategy for a police or crime problem

About 10 minutes later, a 30-year-old African American man comes walking out of the store. The officers draw their guns and order him to get down on the asphalt and to their vehicle. At that time, an Asian woman carrying a child approaches the officers, yelling at them that the man is her husband and demanding to know what they are doing to him. The officers order her to go her car, whereupon she faints while suffering an epileptic seizure.

The African American man, seeing his wife and child on the ground, now becomes very agitated; as a result, the officers use considerable force to subdue and handcuff him. He is arrested for resisting arrest and a host of other offenses; later, he sues for violation of his civil rights.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Assume that this case led to a public outcry for a citizen review board to examine questionable police activities and recommend disciplinary and policy actions. Would you support the creation of such a board? Why or why not?

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Last Updated on July 22, 2020

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