Debunking the Myth of Officer Friendly

Delores Jones-Brown, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

The author will discuss her empirical work with African American and Euro-American adolescent males and their different views of, and experiences with, the police. She will then segue into a discussion of the consequences of racial profiling, that is, the urgent need to protect innocent Black males from the perception of them as criminal and dangerous. The author uses 11 incidents of police use of force, occurring between mid-year 1998 and late 2000 to demonstrate that despite the promise of protection from the United States Constitution and the 1985 Supreme Court decision, Tenn. v. Garner, innocent Black males, even Black police officers, absorb a disproportionate risk of being killed or seriously injured by the police. The author concludes by suggesting a number of measures that should be pursued in order to reduce the likelihood of incidents that are frequently referred to as "tragic mistakes."

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Updated 05/20/2006