Policing and Race: Disparate Treatment, Perceptions, and Policy Responses

Published In

Social Issues and Policy Review

Document Type


Publication Date



Police shootings of unarmed African Americans, including Michael Brown, Sean Bell, and Oscar Grant, sparked nationwide protests, debate, and consciousness-raising about race in policing. These high-profile shootings provide pressing reason for an in-depth analysis of race, policing, and policy. This article details the deleterious consequences that racial disparities in policing have on the lives of racial minorities. In trying to understand the source of this disparate treatment, it highlights what empirical social science knows about racial bias in policing, emphasizing how contemporary forms of racial bias can contribute to racially disparate outcomes. The article makes a distinction between what research reveals about the existence of racial bias in policing and perceptions of racially biased policing. Existing racial bias is not always accurately identified nor perceived, which makes it harder to enact change. Examining how to counteract its potential influence, it reviews empirically based interventions to address both police behavior and community perceptions regarding race in policing. From a policy perspective, the article considers the use of police body-worn cameras as a means to promote equitable policing. It concludes with recommendations based on scientific literature, arguing that effective policies must address both the perception of and actual biased policing.

Locate the Document

PSU affiliates use Find in PSU library link at top.

Unaffiliated researchers can access the work here: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/sipr.12019



Persistent Identifier