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Shared perceptions: black officers discuss continuing barriers in policing

Kenneth Bolton Jr (Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, Southeastern Louisiana University, Hammond, Louisiana, USA)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 1 September 2003



Informed by the experiential‐racism theoretical approach, which maintains that racism must be analyzed as a process that is manifested in multiple relations and situations in everyday life, interviews with 50 male and female black police officers in a southern state are drawn upon to analyze the impact race has on policing. Accounts demonstrate in considerable detail a shared perception of the continuing attitudinal and institutional dimensions of racism that impedes full participation in law enforcement agencies. Training, evaluation, discipline, assignment and promotion are discussed as processes within police agencies felt to be impacted by race. The conclusion is promoted that racism is persistent in agencies to the extent that white officers disproportionately occupy positions of authority with unfettered subjective discretion and to the extent there are few black officers relative to white officers. As an exploratory examination of the shared experiences and perceptions of black officers, findings should be further tested empirically.



Bolton, K. (2003), "Shared perceptions: black officers discuss continuing barriers in policing", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 26 No. 3, pp. 386-399.




Copyright © 2003, MCB UP Limited

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