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100 Blacks in Law Enforcement


The question that is always asked of me is how does someone of African ancestry survive in a racist environment such as policing.  The same people that ask it can answer the question.  Surviving law enforcement racism is no different than surviving America’s racism.  African-Americans/Caribbean endures the same level of racism that people of color experience in the communities they call home.  It is important that we maintain our principle beliefs no matter what occupation we embrace.  We must always remain true to what is right.  If one places this at the center of their lives then it is not difficult. Only when a person attempts to vacillate between doing what is right and what is popular does he or she find it difficult to remain principle.   

Although all professionals face the same levels of racism each of our professions have its unique problems that are catered to the occupation.  Law enforcement’s racism occupational hazards can be summed up in the many areas.  One area that effects us all is the double standards in which laws are applied.  Officers of color become aware of this at the start of their career.  Laws are applied in one community differently than how they are applied in other communities.  A good example of this is how we deal with quality of life violations in communities of color in comparison to how they are handled in other communities.  Police agencies across the country have started to use these normally summonsable offenses as tools of engagement with citizens of color.  This is causing large numbers of arrests among these communities.  The same offenses are tolerated in other communities.  These offenses can vary from an open container of alcohol to not having a bell on ones bicycle.  Both of these violations can cause a person without identification to be arrested and put through the judicial system.   

When African American officers voice their concerns for the dual standards, they are affected by the second problem in law enforcement.  The second problem is the dual standard within the police department.  This is due to the fact that the law enforcement community across America views people of color not as citizens but as criminals who have not been caught yet.  Included in this group are officers of color.  The fact that we wear a uniform during the day does not change law enforcement’s views of us.  The uniform comes off, but our skin pigmentation does not change.  Many officers of color find themselves receiving harsh penalties for minor offenses as well as losing their employment.  It is a never-ending battle to seek justice as a civilian and as a member of the law enforcement community.   

The problem does not stop at the internal disciplinary procedures.  It also goes into the use of force.  Officers of color just like a slain brother Amadou Diallo find themselves looking down the barrel of a police officer’s weapon. Members of the law enforcement community assault a countless number of police officers of color.  A large number are also the victims of “friendly fire.”  This occurs when another officer shoots at an officer.  

It is the additives of all these problems that make law enforcement a dangerous occupation for people of color in front of the badge and behind the badge. 


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