White Boy in a No White Boy "Zone:" Police Views on Racial Profiling and the Police-Minority Relationship

Karen S. Glover, Texas A & M University

Much research has been done on the minority civilian experience in the police-minority relationship but, as central actors, the police voice is noticeably absent from the research. I employed in-depth, semi-structured interviews and primarily open-ended survey questions of patrol officers and sergeants in the Novad Texas Police Department to explore the police experience, specifically with "racial profiling." Examination of this qualitative data may help explain the divergent attitudes between whites and minorities toward the police, in addition to providing insight into the social context police officers experience in a racially ordered society.

Specifically, I will discuss how two "storylines" emerged from the officers' discussions of the police-minority relationship and racial profiling: "the past is the past," and "white boy in a no white boy zone." As suggested by Bonilla-Silva (2001), storylines help facilitate the discourse surrounding a racial issue. In doing so, these recurring themes work to maintain the racial order in part because they allow racial issues to be discussed in ways that appear non-racialized and/or rational.

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Updated 05/20/2006