Margo de Koster and Herbert Reinke
This essay seeks to broaden the discussion of the policing of minorities to situate it within its longer history of the policing of migrants. Since the ancien régime, the explicit endeavor to control migrants has been a major driving force behind the development of modern policing and the professionalization of police practices. This essay charts how, from the sixteenth century onward, the movements of migrants and traveling groups were increasingly controlled through vagrancy regulation, poor laws, and the creation of specialized policing agencies and techniques. It also considers the realities of policing and repression of vagrancy in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Europe, showing how the intensity of repression varied considerably. Finally, the essay discusses minority policing and the recruitment of minorities into the police during the post–Second World War period.
Robin Engel and Kristin Swartz
Since the birth of criminal justice as a field of study in the 1960s, identifying and explaining racial disparities has been a consistent focus of research. While there is agreement that racial and ethnic disparities exist at every stage in the criminal justice system, the reasons or explanations for these disparities remain a subject for debate. This is especially true in the policing literature. Regardless of the discretionary police decision examined, racial and ethnic disparities exist; however, consensus as to why these disparities exist or how they can be reduced is lacking. Regarding citizens’ perceptions, research consistently indicates that black citizens have the most negative perceptions of police. Regardless of the empirical evidence regarding racial and ethnic disparities, if citizens believe police bias exists, police legitimacy is compromised.