Last Updated 17 Jun 2020

Discrimination or Disparity in Policing

Words 1622 (6 pages)

Discrimination refers to a difference in the kind of treatment given to individuals based on the race, ethnic background, social class, gender and so forth. Disparity on the other hand refers to a difference in outcomes of a situation which is not necessarily as a result of differential treatment or any kind of biased treatment. According to Wrobleski (2005), discrimination can be defined as a differential unequal treatment exhibited by a person when dealing with an individual from a certain race, sex, religion or ethnic origin.

In policing, all citizens in a country are entitled to equal amount of protection under the state laws as a sign of democracy. Discrimination in policing occurs when police officers in a given state fail to practice fair treatment when dealing with their workmates and members of the public due to race, gender, ethnic origin, skin color or religion biases and it is a bit different from disparity. For instance, many traffic policemen are known to easily forgive women drivers who violate traffic rules but the same policemen become very strict when dealing with male drivers.

On the other hand, women are known to be more careful drivers than their male counterparts and thus, not many women drivers violate traffic rules. The fact that there are many male traffic rules violators than women might lead to some difference in the number of traffic tickets given to women as opposed to those given to men. This kind of difference will be referred to as disparity and not discrimination. The police force has in the recent past being highly associated with cases of discrimination and favoritism.

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This paper seeks top identify the types of discrimination and disparity in policing mainly based on gender, race and class. Racial discrimination and disparity. The issue of racial and ethnic discrimination and disparity in policing has been widely researched and most studies indicate that there is a common pattern of systematic discrimination and disparity related to factors such as involvement in criminal activities, drug abuse and so forth. Systematic discrimination in policing can be defined as the type of differential treatment which is always present in a state's justice system regardless of the time or place.

Most of racial discrimination in the justice systems exists in form of racial profiling (Wrobleski, 2005). Racial profiling refers to a situation whereby members of a certain race or ethnic origin are subjected to extensive surveillance, police force and criminal justice than others. For instance, law enforcement officers in the U. S have been accused of using the authority given to them in a discretionary way when dealing with minority motorists. The word minority here refers to the blacks, Hipics or native Americans (Walker, Cassia & Miriam, 2000).

This is a case of racial profiling and such cases have brought so much controversy in the American policing with many people claiming that the high rates of minority involvement in traffic stops as opposed to the number of whites involved reflects how biased the traffic police officers are in terms of race. A study carried out by the U. S Rand Corporation in 2006 showed that the minority populations are more likely to be stopped by traffic officers, searched and accused of drug trafficking unlike their white counterparts.

The study also discovered some pattern of racial disparities with many drug traffickers located in some parts of the state inhabited by the blacks and the Hipics unlike those areas inhabited by the whites (Lanier & Stuart, 2008). However, the law enforcers are quick to defend themselves on this accusations claiming that they operate under pressure to track and bring to book those involved in drug use and trafficking activities. The term racial profiling has been replaced with racial biased policing to show how policing in U.

S is biased towards the minority population. Apart from traffic police officers, the law enforcing unit in U. S has been generally accused of possessing a high tendency of using excessive force when dealing with the minority groups than when dealing with the whites. According to Fukurai (2002), racial discrimination and disparity in the U. S has also been identified in the federal justice systems. Racial disparities in the criminal justice systems has been attributed to the high number of minority populations involved in criminal activities.

Racial discrimination is responsible for the disparity seen in police arrests, jury selection and prosecution procedures in the current criminal justice systems in the U. S. Gender discrimination and disparity. Discrimination in policing on the bases of gender is very common in U. S just like in most parts of the world. The major issue of gender discrimination and disparity in the U. S policing is associated with lack of gender integration whereby for a long time now, women have been highly ignored and denied the chance to work as police officers.

However, a call for gender equality and affirmative action has increasingly advocated for women in the police force and through continued struggle and determination, more and more women are now working in the police force. The major challenge now is that, women police officers are discriminated against and have not been fully accepted by their male counterparts. Such women are subjected to cold reception, hostility and sexual harassment by their male workmates, supervisors and the police department as a whole (Wilbanks, 2007).

Other challenges which affect women in policing include too many family responsibilities, conflict in societal roles, sexual harassment, doubts by the public concerning their ability to compete with their male counterparts, doubts about their self worth, inadequate facilities in the police force such as uniforms, locker rooms and so forth. This type of discrimination is worse when the woman in question belongs to the minority population. Researches have indicated that women from the minority populations are exposed to higher discrimination than the white women (Fukurai, 2002).

However, it has been found that regardless of the race, all women in policing face a substantial amount of discrimination. Gender disparity in U. S is evident from the statistics depicted by a report by the State Security Department in 2007 which showed that women constitute only four percent of the police force as compared to their male counterparts (Miller, 2007). This can be attributed to discrimination in enrolling women to the police force and the conditions they are subjected to at the work place.

Apart from discrimination of women police officers at the work place, another form of gender discrimination in policing is evident whereby, male police officers have been found to act with some level of leniency when dealing with women offenders unlike when dealing with male offenders. This is mostly common especially when the woman in question is young and attractive. Moreover, cases of police officers and law enforcers who ask for sexual favors from women so as to overlook their cases or rule in their favor are also quite common. Class discrimination and disparity.

In the U. S, wealth distribution varies widely within the three major social classes. This includes upper class, middle class and low class societies. Most people in U. S fall under the middle class category. Discrimination in policing is brought about by the fact that law enforcers are more biased against low class populations as opposed to those in the middle and upper-class societies (Wrobleski, 2005). When it comes to justice and fairness, the poor people are often denied their rights by the rich and when they go to court, the accuser becomes the accused.

This is because the rich have money to bribe in order to have justice passed in their favor. Disparity in terms of social class is common in policing due ti the fact that most poor people have a higher likelihood of engaging in crime and criminal activities when seeking means of survival. This is the main reason why crime is found to be more prevalent among low class societies as opposed to the upper and middle class societies. Conclusion. It is clear that discrimination or disparity is very common in U. S policing based on race, class and gender.

Most of the reports and researches reviewed indicate that racial based discrimination is the most common type of discrimination in policing with most police officers practicing what is known as racial profiling. This affects the minority populations of all background regardless of their gender or class. Contemporary researches have also shown that the three types of discrimination interact closely with each other. For instance, most of the minority populations in U. S live in perpetual poverty due to lack of employment and unequal income distribution.

This exposes them to higher discrimination due to their race as well as the social class. In addition, it has been found that most black women who work in the police force are subjected to more gender discrimination than the white women. To some extent, discrimination in the police force leads to disparity especially in the case of gender discrimination among women in policing. It can thus be concluded that, discrimination has greatly affected the administration of justice in the criminal justice system and this calls for affirmative action to administer reforms in the system and ensure equal and fair justice for all.


Fukurai, H. (2002). Where Did Hipic Jurors Go? Racial and Ethnic Disenfranchisement in the         Grand Jury and the Search for Justice. Western Criminology Review 2(2). [Online].        Retrieved on Sept 20, 2008 from, <<>>.

Miller, T. (2007). Gender Discrimination in U. S Policing. New York: Free Press.

Lanier, M. and Stuart, H. (2008). Defining Crime. Essential Criminology.  Boulder, CO:            Westview Press.

Walker, S., Cassia. S. & Miriam, D. (2000). The Color of Justice. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth      Publishing Company.

Wilbanks, W. (2007). The Myth of the Racist Criminal Justice System. Monterey,

CA: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company.

Wrobleski, M. & Karen, M. (2005). Introduction to Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice.

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