A growing body of research and training in nearly a dozen law enforcement agencies across the country is aimed at eliminating persistent racial profiling by police, USA Today reports. Researchers are examining virtually all facets of police behavior, from officers’ interactions with new immigrants to car stops and the use of lethal force. Police officials are inviting the increased scrutiny, representing a generational change in law enforcement.
“Law enforcement’s willingness to confront issues of race represents a huge shift in modern policing,” says Chuck Wexler of the Police Executive Research Forum. Wexler is leading a review of the Cambridge Police Department’s role in the arrest of Harvard Prof. Henry Louis Gates. Former federal prosecutor Paul Butler, now at George Washington University law school, says some of the ongoing research is “promising.” Says Butler: “Police need to acknowledge there is a big problem. I just don’t think the police are there yet.” Phillip Goff, a social psychology professor at the University of California-Los Angeles, and Denver Deputy Police Chief Tracie Keesee, who has a doctorate in intercultural communications, direct a national Consortium for Police Leadership in Equity that is now working with agencies in Los Angeles, San Jose, Houston, Salt Lake City, Toronto, Virginia Beach, and Portland, Or.