The racist police officer stereotype may lead to more forceful and threatening police tactics, becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy for those who are concerned about appearing racist, according to a new study from the American Psychological Association.
"Officers who were highly concerned about appearing racist reported lower confidence in their moral authority, and that led to them reporting more support for using coercive policing while on the job," explains study co-author Dr. Phillip Atiba Goff. "Interestingly, both white and non-white officers were equally likely to be concerned about appearing racist."
The research team studied 784 officers from the patrol division in a large urban police force over eight weeks. The respondents were 80% male, and slightly more than half were white. The officers were in their early 40s and had an average of 14 years of experience.
Researchers concluded that older officers reported more self-confidence and less support for using excessive force than younger policemen and women.
This apparently shows that "Ensuring that everyone gets home safely, in even the most dangerous encounters, is a skill that newer officers are less likely to have honed," said study co-author Dr. Erin Kerrison of the University of California, Berkeley.
Female officers were also much more likely to support working with the public in a fair manner, indicating that "toxic masculinity" may play a role in many abusive police incidents, according to the study.
The authors said that additional research is needed in order to guarantee public safety due to the complexity of the relationship between police and the public.
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