With the media attention gained by the Black Lives Matter movement it would be easy to think that the issue of police abuse in America is one of black-and-white. However a study from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows that Latinos have also been subjected to abusive treatment at the hands of police.
Deputy director of the center, Jennifer Benz revealed:
“Excessive police use was a huge issue for the Hispanic-American community.”
She added that for many Latino respondents:
“They or someone in their family was harshly treated by the police at far higher levels than whites.”
“Across the country, roughly four in 10 Americans believe the reason for police violence is overall problems with race relations in our society. Three-quarters of Americans think it would be more effective to have diverse police forces nationwide.”
This is something that Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna, the first Latino to lead the force is aware of:
“I grew up in East L.A., in an economically depressed neighborhood. I did not have the most positive contact with the police or the people around me. I very much understand the concerns.”
Rene Galindo, a Mexican American telecom network engineer from South Central L.A. echoed the concerns:
“You thought it was normal for cops to stop you for no reason, check your personal property under no suspicion at all. I’ve been held for no apparent reason, just for walking home from a friend’s place at night.”
Meanwhile, LAPD Captain Tina Nieto, incoming president of the Hispanic American Police Command Officers Association, agrees that there is a need for more diversity in the police force:
“It’s very important to make an attempt to have a police force that reflects the community that you are servicing. I believe when your police force reflects the community, there are better outcomes.”
However, Heather McDonald of the Manhattan Institute, and author of the book ‘The War On Cops,’ disagrees, stating:
“This is an irrelevant consideration. It’s the classic Black Lives narrative that embraces the white cop/black victim line-up. The Justice Department came out with a report last year in Philadelphia. It found that black and Hispanic officers were far more likely than white officers to shoot an unarmed black suspect. I think the inquiry of an officer’s skin color is largely a side show.”
What do you think, is there a real need for more diversity in the police forces across the United States – or is McDonald right, and is race just a “side show?”
It seems that the perception of the police in America depends on your skin color and therefore how you are treated by law enforcement on a day-to-day basis. But what is clear is that there are very real issues that need to be addressed right now.