First Advisor

Gary R. Perlstein

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Criminology and Criminal Justice


Criminology and Criminal Justice




African American police -- United States, Police -- United States -- Special weapons and tactics units, United States -- Race relations



Physical Description

1 online resource (v, 81 pages)


A career as a police officer has served as a legitimate avenue for many Black Americans to elevate themselves from numerous low paying less prestigious jobs, to a more respectable better paying secured occupation that has a higher social economic status. The general perception related to the civil service position of a police officer, suggests that it is an occupation which should offer an environment free from discrimination and nepotism, thereby allowing fair treatment and equal access for advancement to all individuals employed within the police organization.

The concept of a police organization that offers fair treatment and equal access for advancement to all of its employees in a climate that is free from discrimination and nepotism is the subject of considerable skepticism among many black police officers.

Police departments throughout the United States of America have been challenged by a highly visible accusation of discrimination and nepotism in regards to the selection process and the police personnel selected to become members of elite police specialty units.

This thesis traces the historical involvement of black police officers in The United States and their progression to obtain equality and fair treatment as police officers within the law enforcement community.

This thesis examines the racial demographics of eighteen (18) police departments located in various sections of the United States and the racial demographics of the elite police specialty units which are incorporated within each police department.

In addition, this thesis will analyze collected data from the police departments that participated in the study and determine if the minority representation within each of the police department's elite police specialty units is equal to the general population which the police departments serve and proportionate to the minority representation within the police department.

Finally, this thesis will examine data identifying Black American's representation in significant areas of the criminal justice system, thus analyzing the correlation between Black American's over-representation in the criminal components of the criminal justice system and their under-representation within police departments and elite police specialty units.


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