Black and White in Blue: Racial Distinctions Within a Common Police Identity

Peter Moskos

This research, based on survey data, informal interviews, and 20 months of participant-observation research, focuses specifically on the attitudinal similarities and differences of white and black police officers working in a high-crime "ghetto" in Baltimore, Maryland. Qualitative and quantitative data gathered while the author served as a uniformed police officer show significant racial differences in the attitude of white and black police towards the role of police in society, departmental politics, and the minority community. Elements of a common police identity, such as conservative social beliefs and opposition to "ghetto" culture, preceed officers' entry into the department and exist without lessening differences between white and black police.

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Updated 05/20/2006