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Police Give Preferential Treatment - to Blacks By: Michael Tremoglie
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, May 19, 2003


Race is not a factor in the attitude of cops toward suspects according to a recent study. In fact, in at least one city, the cops show more regard for blacks than they do for whites.

The research was conducted by three criminologists, and published in the August 2002 edition of Criminology, the Journal of the American Society of Criminology. This study is the academic equivalent of a weapon of mass destruction for the race-baiting, cop-hating, social activist/trial lawyer complex. Yet, not one word about it was mentioned in the media-not even the putatively "conservative" media of talk radio or Fox News Channel.

The authors of the study were Professor Stephen D. Mastrofski of George Mason University, Michael Reisig, and John D.McCluskey (both of Michigan State University). Mastrofski is the Director of the Administration of Justice Program at George Mason University. Reisig is an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice and McCluskey is an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice. The study consisted of observing the encounters with citizens by police departments in St. Petersburg, Florida and Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1996 and 1997.

The study was a part of a larger project about community policing. Professor Mastrofski told me, during a phone interview, that he and his colleagues were attempting to determine how cops interact with community. Mastrofski said he and the other researchers believed that they would find that race was a predictor of how cops behaved towards citizens they interacted with either during routine calls, investigations or arrests. However, the conclusions by Mastrofski, et. al. were contrary to their own preconceived notions and the beliefs of most Americans. They learned that race was not a factor.

The researchers defined abusive behavior by cops as that which referred to the "citizen’s identity are unambiguously gratuitous, and illegitimate. Such things as derogatory statements, slurs, or ignoring the citizens questions." The professors determined that the attitude of the suspects, the environment of the encounter, and the age of the suspect were a better indicator of the attitude of the cops toward the suspect than race. As Professor Mastrofski told me "…in general if a suspect is nasty, then he will be treated nastily."

In the case of the Saint Petersburg (Florida) Police Department, the researchers determined that the cops were more "nasty" towards white than black suspects. This is even more astounding in that it not only disproves conventional wisdom but stands it on its head. Professor Mastrofski qualified those findings by saying he and his colleagues determined that in St. Petersburg, the deferential treatment of blacks could be accounted for by the " St. Petersburg’s chief’s effort to promote better treatment of minorities." Regardless of the city, however, the study provided unexpected and unconventional data when considering race.

These results according to Mastrofski confirmed the results of a prior study, published in the early 1970s, by Professor Al Reiss, who evaluated interaction by cops in departments in Washington D.C., Boston and Chicago. Although Mastrofski told me this study did not evaluate all variables and therefore was not quite as comprehensive.

Yet, despite the potential to debunk the conventional wisdom that cops mistreat blacks, this study received no major media reference. The race hustlers, academicians, and the mainstream media-especially the mainstream media- have propagated this myth of preferential treatment of whites - a myth that says all cops are the proverbial Southern sheriff.

After the Rodney king incident TV talk show host Phil Donahue devoted an entire show to examining the King incident specifically and the behavior of cops with minorities in general. During that program, which featured several "civil rights attorneys" I can recall Donahue saying that while he cannot prove it, he believes that white people are treated very gingerly by cops, and "people of color," (as he referred to blacks) are treated the exact opposite.

Mastrofski insisted that he did not want the study to be construed to mean it proves that cops do not abuse blacks in other departments or that there are no racist cops. However, this study certainly disproves the presumption that policemen as a class are guilty of racism. This presumption of cops being guilty of racism is the media standard for all controversial incidents involving cops and minorities. This is the perception routinely propagated by the liberal chatterati. This perception is so ingrained in our modern culture that it virtually guarantees an accusation of mistreatment of minorities by cops is accepted as fact.

Liberals and "civil rights" advocates portray every cop as a Bull Connors, the Alabama sheriff whose department abused those blacks arrested for protesting segregation. It is in their interest to maintain this image with the American public. It helps them obtain funding, it helps them obtain favorable verdicts in civil suits, and it helps politically. Any scholarly research that portrays white cops as treating blacks better or the same as whites will adversely affect these objectives.

By perpetuating this fraud, "civil rights" advocates and liberals prevent black criminals from being arrested. This has a deleterious effect on African-American communities. Liberals become the African-American communities worst nightmare.

Just as unfortunate is the complicity of the mainstream media in this deception. I would suggest that readers write Howell Raines of the New York Times and his counterpart with the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and other publications and media, both liberal and conservative, and demand that they report about this study.

For more on this topic, read Heather MacDonald's book Are Cops Racist?, available for $18 from the FrontPage Magazine Bookstore. Read Michael P. Tremoglie's review of the book here.


Michael P. Tremoglie is the author of the new novel A Sense of Duty, and an ex-Philadelphia cop. E-mail him at elfegobaca@comcast.net.


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