Police departments should start hiring more racial minorities because white police officers are more “negative” and “cynical” than black and Latino officers, according to a study released Friday.
Jacinta Gau, Ph.D. and Eugene Paoline III, Ph.D., two criminal justice professors at the University of Central Florida, conducted the study involving 149 beat cops from the West Palm Beach Police Department in Florida. Surveyed officers were asked about the nature of their job and feelings toward the citizens they police.
Minority police officers were more likely to facilitate a trusting relationship with communities than white officers, the study results showed. The findings do not necessarily apply to other police departments, Gau clarified to The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“Black and Latino officers seem to view citizens more favorably than white officers do, are significantly more likely to believe that victims deserve police assistance, and that they are genuinely helping people when they answer calls for service,” the study claims.
The surveyed white officers had narrower views of their role as police officers, typically valuing law enforcement alone as their goal. The minority officers, however, showed a more far-reaching understanding of their role that included interaction with communities beyond emergency calls.
“Without calling white officers out,” the authors said. “Their negative leaning seems to suggest a need for police leaders to pay attention to officers’ attitudes and the way in which they approach citizens.”
The more expansive view of their roles was a major reason for the lower levels of cynicism in minority officers, Gau argued. Since the white officers seemed to value community interaction less, they wouldn’t go out of their way to meet community members, and as a result, their interactions with the community would be limited to emergency calls and serious crimes, which naturally fosters cynicism, Gau said.
Trust between communities and the officers policing them is essential, the study claims, and argues citizens are more likely to report crimes when such a relationship exists.
“Most citizens do not feel comfortable personally intervening when they see a suspicious person or interpersonal altercation in the neighborhood,” the study reads. “If the officers who respond to their calls for service take a long time to arrive and display disinterested and uncaring demeanors, citizens will feel shut out and disconnected.”
Minority police reach out more often because they are more likely than white officers to understand community members who have a poor relationship with police, Gau claimed.
“Minority police come from communities which have a poor relationship with police more often than white officers,” Gau told TheDCNF. “They’ve lived on the other side and now they want to get in on policing and make a difference in the way they police.”
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