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Diversity Issues

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How the Historical Development of Policing in the United States Relates to the Current Relationship Between Police, Different Group Dynamics and Social Interaction Also, When Looking at the Overall Social Interaction of the Gay Community, has Law Enforcement Adapted to Modern Times in Addressing Their Needs Associated with Hate Crimes?

Leitha Powell
Diversity Issues
Professor Thomas
September 9, 2014

Before the creation of the first modern police department founded by Sir Robert Peel of England, the Metropolitan Police of London it was the duty of every able body person to contribute to the policing of their community. People were more trusting of the “police” because essentially they were neighbors looking out for one another so there was a general harmony within the community. Sometime during the early part of 20th century formal police agencies were created in the United States with this came the breakdown of interaction between different communities and police for instance, minorities and the gay community. Throughout this country history, there has always been discontentment and strife between the minority communities and law enforcement in the United States which is still an imperative issue today. This problem started with execution of slave patrols by the legislature when they passed An Act for Establishing and Regulating of Patrols. Which were a group of white men not exceeding seven who were hired to prevent slave insurrection, enforce and discipline slaves; they policed slaves on plantations and hunted down fugitive slaves. Slave patrols played an instrumental role in enforcing existing laws of southern societies and operated until slavery was abolished with the loss of the confederacy. Once the civil war ended, the confederate states enacted “black codes” which was designed to restrict freed blacks activity and the police were the ones who enforced these codes which created a system of involuntary servitude by criminalizing black unemployment, vagrancy and congregating of blacks. In essence blackness itself was a crime and the police were used as instruments to enforce laws therefore blacks viewed police as an organization that was out to do harm and let harm happen to blacks instead of protecting them. This made African American’s fearful, hostile and distrustful of law

enforcement; in return they had no confidence in the police to protect them and made little to no contact with police. That is why in today’s minority community there is a “no snitching” term because minorities view talking to the police as helping the police and to the minorities, police are against them. There have been several incidences in recent years such as the beating of Rodney King by the LAPD officers, the killing of Sean Bell by NYPD officers, and the killing of Mike Brown by the Ferguson police officer all of which have heighten concerns over the abuse against minorities by law enforcement officials resulting in widespread calls for action. Police departments across the country have been repeatedly accused of targeting plus harassing minorities and failing to root out racist attitudes and practices within their ranks. After the 9/11 terror attack of the World Trade Center the people of Middle Eastern descent has also become victims of racial profiling and prejudiced attitudes by law enforcement. In addition to the problems that minorities face with the police, the gay community has also experienced mistreatment by the hands of the police. In the 1950’s and 1960’s homosexuals were faced with an anti-homosexual legal system basically homosexuality was against the law and hardly any establishments allowed openly gay people to enter. Since this kind of system was in place in America it allowed law enforcement to frequently raid on gay bars without probable cause and arresting dozens of men and women but things all change after the raid in New York City on the Stonewall Inn a gay tavern where some of the gays decided to fight back. Days of violent rioting took place known as the “Stonewall Rioting” after that raid which ultimately was the catalyst that lead to the gay liberation movement whose goal was to become socially accepted by the people and laws of America.

Homosexuals still faced many obstacles in becoming a cohesive community with law enforcement and the heterosexual community. In retrospect the police involvement with the gay community well-being is a lot better in America since the 1950’s and 1960’s such as the Hate Crimes Statistics Act that was implemented in 1990 to help protect certain groups of people due to the mistreatment of minorities and homosexuals. Currently several police department have enacted Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) units to provide a liaison for gay community members who may be crime victims or who have concerns they wish to address could come to the police with confidence that there situation will be taking serious. Still there is a strained relationship which continues to exist between the minority community and law enforcement. Officers of today need to acknowledge plus understand how the historical legacy and practices of the police profession still affect the perception and participation of both the minority and the gay community.

References conference, l. (2009, 6 22). Stonewall Riots. The Leadership Conference: http://www.civilrights.org
Conser, J. A., & Paynich, R. (2012). Law Enforcement in the United States. Pittsburgh: Jones and Bartlett learning.
Hadden, S. E. (2014, 10 1). New Georgia Encyclopedia. New Georgia Encyclopedia: www.georgiaencyclopedia.org
Highways, O. (2014, 7 14). United States History: http://www.u-s-history.com
Mcnamara, R., & Burns, R. (2009). Miulticulturalism in the Criminal Justice System. New York: McGraw-Hill.

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