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Police, Violence, and Social Justice: A Call for Research and Introduction to the Special Issue

Objective: Black people compose 13% of the U.S. population but 23% of fatal police shootings (McLeod et al., 2020). Numerous studies have documented the negative mental health consequences experienced by communities of color due to negative experiences with law enforcement ...

Published onJul 07, 2022
Police, Violence, and Social Justice: A Call for Research and Introduction to the Special Issue
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Police, Violence, and Social Justice: A Call for Research and Introduction to the Special Issue
Description

Objective: Black people compose 13% of the U.S. population but 23% of fatal police shootings (McLeod et al., 2020). Numerous studies have documented the negative mental health consequences experienced by communities of color due to negative experiences with law enforcement (Muchow & Amuedo-Dorantes, 2020; Smith et al., 2019). The goal of this special issue of the Psychology of Violence is to spotlight and encourage research that informs the development of effective policies and practices to reduce systemic violence and improve relationships between the police and the communities they serve. Method: This special issue includes 10 articles. These studies use a variety of methods including cross-sectional quantitative surveys (n = 4), qualitative focus groups and interviews (n = 4), experiments (n = 1), and critical reviews (n = 1). Results: Several themes emerge from these studies: (a) there are high levels of fear and mistrust between communities of color and law enforcement; (b) some exemplary police officers have developed strategies to de-escalate conflict and rebuild community trust; (c) White Americans who believe there is systemic racial injustice are more likely to be supportive of Black Lives Matter protests; and (d) police violence against Black communities is a global concern. Discussion: There is much still to be learned regarding the long-term impact of fear and mistrust of the police on communities of color and how to mitigate these impacts through trauma-informed interventions. Programs and policies are needed to address the historic roots of systemic racism in law enforcement. Conclusion: There are opportunities to address the historic and contemporary issues that impact police and community relations and address systemic violence in policing. These articles present a call to action to advance social justice in policing and address the long term trauma that exists in communities disproportionately impacted by police violence.

 

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