David A. Stepney
Management of Law Enforcement AL318
Professor Tim M. Murrell
Police brutality and poor community relations continues to plague
racial and sociological groups throughout United States, which proves that
law enforcement management needs to implement better community relations
policies and procedures.
The Watts Riots of 1965 was the peak of police brutality at its worst
that was documented by video. At the time, California had adopted
This proposition moved to block the fair housing element
of the Civil Rights Act which created feelings of injustice and second-
class citizenship among minorities, particularly Blacks, in the Los Angeles
area. According to www.history.acusd.edu, Watts was “known as the ‘duck
pond’ where police could stop anyone, at any time for any reason; one study
showed 90% of juveniles arrested never had charges filed.” On August 11,
1965 a ‘routine’ traffic stop in South Central Los Angeles of a suspected
drunk driver is what started the Watts Riots.
Apparently, the Black
community had enough of the constant harassment that preceded this event
and Proposition 14 did not help. The riots began and lasted for six days
thereafter. By the end of the riot of 1965, 36 people (mostly Blacks) were
slaughtered by police, 1,032 injured, 3,436 jailed, and $40 million dollars
in property destroyed according to www.occawlonline.pearsoned.com.
According to Rev. James Edward Jones, this was not a “riot” but a “protest”
by people not allowed to participate in mainstream of society Los Angeles.
Police Chief William Parker contributed greatly to this tragedy by ordering
police to use “justifiable homicide” to stop the riots. If community and
minority relations were good during that time, this riot would have not
Chief Parker was a proponent of military-style policing as opposed to
community policing. This style of policing was very threatening to the
It also added fuel to the fires of racial tension and
poor community relations between police and minorities. Police using the
term ‘boy…do this or do that’ to refer to Black males during a routine
stop did not make matters any better as opposed to being referred to as
‘sir’ or ‘Mr..
.’ During the Parker administration for the LAPD, there was
segregation within the police department itself; Black cops only partnered
with Black cops and White cops only partnered with White cops. However,
White cops were allowed to patrol Black neighborhoods such as Watts, which
increased racial tension, much like North St. Louis, Missouri today. This
military-style policing offered no solution but increased poor race and
community relations, which eventually led to the Watts Riots of 1965.
Poor race relations are not the only element that sparks community
tension with police – poor relations with specific sociological groups
damages the image of police.
For example, the Stonewall Inn was a gay bar
located on Christopher Street in New York’s Greenwich Village. On June 27,
1969 during the night, a police inspector and seven other officers from the
Public Morals Section of the First Division of the New York Police
Department arrived shortly after midnight. Allegedly, they were there to
look for ‘violations’ of the alcohol control laws. During their
‘inspection’ they made the unnecessary homophobic comments, and after
checking identification, they threw the patrons out, one by one, while
others remained outside to watch. The gay and lesbian community had been
continuously treated as second-class citizens by NYPD during this time. As
with the Watts Riots, with poor community relations, it was just a matter
of time before big something had to happen to initiate change.
Stonewall Riots of 1969 lasted three nights. Although there were no
reported deaths as a result of this riot, it is still quite disturbing that
it took three nights of rioting to even begin a change in police community
relations with the particular social group. This is yet another example of
the backlash of poor community relations.
There is a definitely connection between police brutality and poor
community relations; they go hand in hand. Former United States Attorney
General Janet Reno said it best: “The issue is national in scope and
reaches people all across this country. For too many people, especially in
minority communities, the trust that is so essential to effective policing
does not exist because residence believe that the police have used
excessive force, that law enforcement is too aggressive, that law
enforcement is biased, disrespectful and unfair.
There are endless stories of police brutality, abuse of power,
racism/racial profiling, and negligence. For example, it was concluded by
the state Attorney General’s office that .