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The Republic and HBO's The Wire PHIL-255-01: Police Misconduct

The Police

Weitzer, R.  American Policing Under Fire: Misconduct and Reform. Society 52, no. 5 (2015): 475-480. doi:10.1007/s12115-015-9931-1

A cluster of recent police killings of African American men has sparked an unprecedented amount of public debate regarding policing in the United States. Critics and protesters have made sweeping allegations about the police; a presidential commission has been formed to study police misconduct; and reforms are being debated. These events provide a backdrop for this article's review of recent poll data and discussion of research regarding police relations with African Americans, Latinos, and whites. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

Search Terms

police brutality

police misconduct

police reform

police AND race

(baltimore or united states could be added to any of these searches)

Articles in Popular & Scholarly Periodicals

Articles in Scholarly Periodicals


Body cameras

25 S. Cal. Rev. L. & Social Justice 69. Date Accessed: 2016/03/10., 2015


NAME: By: Joey Dhillon*

Police body cameras can be an effective tool to protect citizens, increase police accountability, and ensure accurate fact-finding.  As long as footage is carefully regulated and controlled, these cameras will serve the best interests of society and not become just another form of mass scale surveillancehe rise in popularity of body cameras shows both a police willingness to change the culture of some of their work and the willingness of citizens to be recorded to influence their police department. These cameras represent change for the relationship between officers and citizens, and by keeping police accountable and providing citizens with an accurate record, they help to remove some of the fear that visits many when they interact with an officer.

At Issue

"THE CHALLENGES ARE COMPLICATED, LAYERED AND PAINFUL." Vital Speeches Of The Day,  December 2015, 366-371,

The article presents a speech by James B. Comey, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, delivered at the International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference in Chicago, Illinois on October 26, 2015. Topics of the speech included the law enforcement, community service in the neighborhood, and police misconduct.


Williams, Patricia J. "Reasoning Away Murder." Nation 301, no. 18 ( 2015): 10-11,

The article discusses shooting deaths of U.S. residents. The shooting of trespasser Charles K. Goodridge by security guard Francisco Ruiz and the failure of police officers to treat Goodridge's injuries is addressed. The shooting death of Cleveland, Ohio African American teenager Tamir Rice by police officer Timothy Loehmann is addressed in relation to comments by law enforcement expert Kimberly Crawford excusing the officer's actions. INSET: Excerpts From the Tamir Rice Report, With Regrets..


Police & Baltimore

Halpin, Dennis. "Manufacturing Criminals": The Historical Roots of Baltimore's Racialized Criminal Justice System."   Perspectives on History,  July 2015.

A Legal Perspective

43 Hastings Const. L.Q. 117. Date Accessed: 2016/03/10.
NOTE: "Hands Up, Don't Shoot": Policing, Fatal Force, and Equal Protection in the Age of Colorblindness

NAME: by Zach Newman*
The explosion of power and solidarity seen in Ferguson, Baltimore, and around the country, represents more than just a desire to prosecute the police who killed Mike Brown, Eric Garner, or Freddie Gray. The protests were, and are, about the specific loss of those individuals but also about broader political needs, social stratification and subordination, and the continuity of racismThus, the narrow legal reforms discussed throughout this  []  note offer important avenues for change and for decreasing police officers' use of excessive force. Nonetheless, these reforms are only one piece of a larger struggle against colorblindness, post-racialism, and Equal Protection jurisprudence that limit the means for addressing contemporary racism.


Krieger, Nancy, Jarvis T. Chen, Pamela D. Waterman, Mathew V. Kiang, and Justin Feldman. "Police Killings and Police Deaths are Public Health Data and can be Counted." PLoS Medicine 12  no. 12 (2015).

Although the number of US law enforcement agents killed in the line of duty is well documented (for 2015, 26 killed by shootings as of mid-September, of whom 17 were police officers), no reliable official data exist on the number of US persons killed by the police. On June 1, 2015, however, The Guardian-a newspaper from the United Kingdom--launched the "The Counted," the first website that seeks to report, in real-time, the number of US people killed by police, and does so via "monitoring regional news outlets, research groups, and open-sourced reporting projects" as well as submissions from users.

Police and Race

Chaney, Cassandra, and Ray V. Robertson.  "Armed and Dangerous? An Examination of Fatal Shootings of Unarmed Black People by Police." Journal Of Pan African Studies 8, no. 4 (2015): 45-78

Given the increasing number of unarmed Black men murdered by members of law enforcement, specifically the deaths of 78 Black unarmed males and females between 1999 and 2015, this study will examine whether the policemen involved in these murders were indicted. Through the use of Critical Race Theory (CRT), the following three questions were foundational to this study: (1) How does the murder of unarmed Black people by police support White Supremacy? (2) What do non-indictments of police suggest about the lives of unarmed Black people? (3) How does the murder of unarmed Black people escalate individual, familial, and communal mistrust of police? Content analysis of the data revealed the murder of unarmed Blacks supports White Supremacy by advancing the racist legacy of citizen slave patrols that were initiated during slavery, assumes that Blacks are dangerous, sub-human, and inherently criminal, and results in little personal accountability for Black murder among members of law enforcement. In general, officers are not indicted for the murder of Blacks, which suggests the lives of Blacks have no value. Ultimately, the death of unarmed Black people greatly undermines the confidence members of this group have in police and increases the likelihood they will regard law enforcement as a threat to their individual, family, and communal safety. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

Chaney, Cassandra, and Ray Robertson.  "Racism and Police Brutality in America." Journal Of African American Studies 17, no. 4 (2013): 480-505,

What, if any, changes have occurred in the nation's police departments 21 years after the Rodney King beating? To answer this question, this study examined findings provided by the National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project (NPMSRP). An additional goal of this study was to examine how the public generally perceive police and how race and racism shape this discourse. To answer this secondary question, we examined narratives provided by 36 contributors to the NPMSRP site. The following two questions were foundational to this study: (1) What do findings from the NPMSRP suggest about the rate of police brutality in America? (2) How do individuals perceive the police department, and what implications do these perceptions hold for Black men in America? In general, fatalities at the hands of police are higher than they are for the general public. Grounded theory analysis of the data revealed that individuals perceive members of law enforcement in the following ways: (a) contempt for law enforcement, (b) suspicion of law enforcement, (c) law enforcement as agents of brutality, and (d) respect for law enforcement. Supporting qualitative data are presented in connection with each of the aforementioned themes. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

Ross, Cody T.  "A Multi-Level Bayesian Analysis of Racial Bias in Police Shootings at the County-Level in the United States, 2011-2014." PLoS One 10  no.11 (2015).  doi:

A geographically-resolved, multi-level Bayesian model is used to analyze the data presented in the U.S. Police-Shooting Database (USPSD) in order to investigate the extent of racial bias in the shooting of American civilians by police officers in recent years.

Milner, Adrienne N., Brandon J. George, and David B. Allison. "Black and Hispanic Men Perceived to be Large are at Increased Risk for Police Frisk, Search, and Force." PLoS One 11, no.1 ( 2016).

Social justice issues remain some of the most pressing problems in the United States. One aspect of social justice involves the differential treatment of demographic groups in the criminal justice system. While data consistently show that Blacks and Hispanics are often treated differently than Whites, one understudied aspect of these disparities is how police officers' assessments of suspects' size affects their decisions. Using over 3 million cases from the New York Police Department (NYPD) Stop, Question, and Frisk (SQF) Database, 2006-2013, this study is the first to explore suspects' race, perceived size, and police treatment. Results indicate that tall and heavy black and Hispanic men are at the greatest risk for frisk or search. Tall and heavy suspects are at increased risk for experiencing police force, with black and Hispanic men being more likely to experience force than white men across size categories.

Kirk, J. A.  The killing of Carnell Russ: Civil rights, law enforcement, and the courts. The Arkansas Historical Quarterly 74, no. 3 (2015): 231-256.

The Russ family then launched a "wrongful death" lawsuit in which they faced a less than sympathetic federal district court judge who directed an all-white jury to dismiss all charges against other defendants that had been enjoined in the case. In 2014, African American Eric Garner died in New York City after allegedly being placed in a chokehold by white police officers.67 Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, was shot dead by a white police officer while, some witnesses said, his hands were up in the air.68 In 2015, Freddie Gray died of spinal injuries sustained while in police custody in Baltimore, leading to charges against six police officers (three white, three black).69 Closer to home, prosecutors dropped the case against white Little Rock Police Department officer Josh Hastings in the shooting of fifteen-year-old Bobby Moore in 2012.70 Such incidents are just the latest and most publicized episodes in an all-too-familiar story of conflict between white law enforcement officers and African Americans.

Police brutality: The real whistle-blower (opinion) CNN. Updated 3:35 PM ET, Fri August 7, 2015.
  • If not for videos and social media, we wouldn't know about many instances of police brutality
  • The criminal justice system needs to do much more to ensure equal protection of the laws, he says