Date of Conferral
Public Policy and Administration
African American police officers, as other African Americans, report being subjected to racial profiling by police officers, and that these encounters have, in some cases, resulted in excessive and unjustified use of force. These types of occurrences have resulted in a divide between African American and Caucasian police officers. The purpose of this phenomenological research study was to explore the experiences and perceptions of African American male police officers in the State of New Jersey who feel they have been discriminated against by fellow law enforcement officers. Weber's social relationship theory served as the theoretical framework for this study. Data were collected through semistructured interviews with a snowball sample of 20 participants. Data were coded and analyzed using a modified van Kaam method of analysis. Findings revealed that most participants felt they had been stopped for no reason, and that they were disrespected by fellow officers, even when they revealed they were law enforcement officers. Many times, participants sensed that the disclosure of their status as a police officer was met with increased suspicion. Consistent with social relationship theory, a significant theme was that participants perceived that they were considered by Caucasian officers to be a member of a subgroup, rather than a member of the dominant group. The implications for positive social change include recommendations to law enforcement policymakers and leaders to learn about the detrimental effects of racial profiling on African American male police officers' morale, work ethic, job satisfaction, and personal feelings of worth as well as to focus resources on creating stronger policies against racial profiling and effective training and oversight of police officers.