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Examining Race in America: Policing


Governors State University Criminal Justice Professor Jarrod Shanahan has questions that need answers.

“What would it mean to have real safety in communities currently saturated with police that are simultaneously the most unsafe places?” he recently asked.

Neighborhoods like Englewood on Chicago’s South Side enter the conversation. The predominantly African American area is situated within a police district routinely cited by the Chicago Police Department (CPD) as home to the highest investigatory stops and use-of-force incidents.

To investigate the problem and help explain why today’s social unrest mirrors that of the Civil Rights movement some 50 years ago, Shanahan traces a pattern of systemic racism and classism in policing, from its inception to current day.

The patterns Shanahan finds reveal disturbing numbers. In 2019, in CPD’s District 7, home to Englewood, there were 14,102 investigatory stops. Compare that to 4,579 stops in the District 18, home to the wealthy Gold Coast a few miles away.

In 2018 and 2019, CPD reported 78 percent of the use-of-force incidents involved African American citizens. This revelation prompted many in the community to add their voices to the national Black Lives Matter campaign.

“Police can be the most brutal and corrupt in these communities where residents have limited power to assert themselves,” Shanahan said. “The cops could never behave on the Gold Coast the way they do in Englewood.”

The United States policing system is distinctly American in its culture, and in its primary goal— control. “Historically police arose to manage the flow of commodities and laborers,” Shanahan explains.

Click here to watch Dr. Jarrod Shanahan explain his views on reallocating funds from police. Governors State’s Restorative Justice expert Dr. Joao Salm also presents the Restorative Justice option. Click here to listen to the podcast.

Visit "Examining Race in America" to view the full multimedia series. 

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