Racism in Policing: Amplified by Social Control

Jori Reiken
5 min readFeb 19, 2022

Racism in policing is not a formal policy but it is at the latent level of police subculture. Police officers are one of many social organizations that have power and control over the general population to the extent that they are able to perform acts that reflect the values of both the governing bodies and society itself. This paper will discuss how government social control amplifies racism at the police level through the institution and community policing as an effort to improve relationships within minority communities.

Institutionalized racism is not a new idea for the police sector of society, although within the communities of police officers, there is a colour blindness effect that can be experienced. Since policing is a job that affects the way one would see people, police officers can be very cynical as they lose faith in human beings, which as that idea increases, their commitment to the social system in place and the efforts to address racism decrease (Harpaz, 2013). This allows for individual police officers to not see racism in the practices they do every day. In fact, “police officers are far less likely (31%) than the general population (60%) to say that fatal police encounters are symptomatic of broader issues” (Welsh, 2020). Since police officers live their day to day life within institutionalized racism, there can be the thought process of knowing there are officers who have done racist things, the system that they were taught is not broken. In the complex color blindness article’s study, officers believed that because there are racialized members within the ranks of the police force, there was no longer any racism within the institution (Welsh, 2020), even though that racism is still present and is amplified by the biases learned in society and the practices that are used. Officers have blamed the media for ideas of racism within the ranks of the police community (Welsh, 2020) which comes from a lack of understanding in how racism affects society, it’s institutions and culture.

Government social control is an important aspect to the topic of racism in the police force. After defining how the police community views racism within the culture and experiences, taking a step away is important to discuss how acts of racism are affected by their social context and their assigned seriousness in society. First, it is important to define culture, which Black has defined as a “symbolic aspect of social life, including expressions of what is true, good and beautiful…it also…