Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, To Police and Be Policed: Multiple Perspectives on Racialized Law Enforcement in a Diverse and Changing City

C4E Flash Event, Ethics in the City

Despite official claims of tolerance and inclusion, Toronto’s Black population has a historically tenuous relationship with the city’s law enforcement agencies. This study addresses how distrust of the police and notions of Black criminality are mutually sustained and reproduced through police encounters with Black citizens. Prior research has documented the myriad ways in which the police serve to subjugate and control Black populations. Previous research has also highlighted the importance of fair treatment in shaping citizens’ perceptions of police (and state) legitimacy. Very little, however, has simultaneously incorporated the perspectives of those on both sides of “the thin blue line.” Utilizing a mixed-methods approach, this study draws on interview and survey data with police officers and civilians to untangle the intricate relationship between race, policing, citizenship and state authority. The findings illustrate that both police officers and Black citizens act in ways that run counter to their own interests during their often hostile and confrontational encounters. Such encounters contribute to the erosion of police legitimacy and to the criminalization of race/racialization of crime. The findings provide support for a methodological approach to the study of racial inequality that is attentive to the multiple perspectives of the actors involved.

Akwasi Owusu-Bempah
University of Toronto, Sociology

Wed, Feb 28, 2018
02:15 PM - 03:45 PM
Centre for Ethics, University of Toronto
Rm 200, Larkin Building