Negro Policeman Book Review Essay Research Paper

Negro Policeman: Book Review Essay, Research Paper A Study of the Negro Policeman: Book Review by Nicholas Alex Appleton-Century-Crofts Copyright 1969 210 pages

Negro Policeman: Book Review Essay, Research Paper

A Study of the Negro Policeman: Book Review

by Nicholas Alex


Copyright 1969 210 pages

Intro. Criminal Justice December 2, 1996

Nicholas Alex, assistant professor of sociology at The City University

of New York, holds a Ph.D. from the New School for Social Research and a B.S.

from the Wharton School. He was formerly a research assistant with the Russell

Sage Foundation, an instructor at Adelphi University, and has had working

experience in his academic specialty-the sociology of professions and

occupations-while an industrial engineer in the aircraft industry, later as

business manager of the Walden School. This is his first book.

In this book Alex made an effort to examine the peculiar problems of

Negro policemen who live in an age which has not yet resolved to problem of

inequality in an assertedly democratic society. He drawn heavily on the

reflections of forty-one Negro policemen who made plain to me the difficulties

involved in being black in blue. Alex was concerned with the ways in which the

men were recruited into the police, the nature of their relations in regard to

their immediate clientele, their counterparts, and the rest of society. In the

broadest terms, the book examines the special problems that Negro policemen face

in their efforts to reconcile their race with their work in the present

framework of American values and beliefs.

The research for the study was based on intensive interviews collected

over a period of eleven months, from December 1964 to October 1965. During that

time the author talked with Negro police engaged in different types of police

specialties, and men of different rank and backgrounds. Alex was interested in

preserving their anonymity, and substituted code numbers for names. The

language in which their thoughts were expressed is unchanged.

Most of the interviews were obtained either at the policeman’s home or

the authors. Some were held in parks, playgrounds, and luncheonettes. All of

the interviews were open-ended. All the policemen refused to have there

conversations taped. “I know too well what tapes can do to you,” said one. “I

can refute what you write down on that pad, but I can’t if it’s taped. We use

tapes too, you know.” The author was dealing with a highly expressive and

literate group of men who thought of the study as a way in which they could make

themselves heard.

This book is organized very well. It consist of eight chapters, and each

chapter is broken into subdivisions. The first chapter talks about the

policemen in the community. Within this chapter mainly describes the police as

and occupation, and states how the policemen’s job is uncertain. The second

chapter deals with the recruitment of Negroes for police work. It talks about

the need for Negro policemen, and the reasons for entering the police work. The

author states in this chapter that most Negro policemen applied for police work

only as one possibility among other similar civil service jobs. The next

chapter describes the police image and the difference between good cops and bad

cops. The author describes a good cop as someone who knows his job, has a well-

integrated personality, and someone who tries to understand the particular

problems in the community that he works. He describes a bad cop as the guy who

puts on a uniform and becomes 10 feet tall. In my community there is a cop that

relates to that statement. The only reason he is tough is because he has a

badge on his shirt. I would like to meet him in a dark alley when no one else

is around, and without him wearing his badge. Then we can see who is the tough


The next chapter is a very interesting one. It deals with the Negro

policemen and his white counter part. It talks about how the Negro policemen

feel they are viewed by white policemen. They feel that the white cops look at

them as an oddity. It also talks about how the Negro police men feel about the

white cops. The Negro policemen interviewed feel that most whites are narrow

minded, bigoted and opinionated , middle class in their thinking. The fifth

chapter is about the Negro policemen and the white community. One

policemen interview said, “From a personal point of view I don’t feel as

comfortable as I would in a Negro neighborhood.”

The sixth chapter deals with the Negro community. It talks about the

different social classes within the community. It also talks about the Negro

policeman and the civil rights movement. The last chapter deals with the

police uniform and how it is a symbol of the authority, power, and legal status

of the police. It also talks about how it can be considered a target for the

department. The most interesting subject targeted in this chapter is how the

Negro policeman out of uniform faces all the humiliations of being a Negro,

especially when he leaves the ghetto.

This book consist of a great deal of information. The author could

have presented the data in a different manner. He did not present both sides of

the issue. He only took forty-one Negro police officers and based his

information on that. The author should at least included a chapter on how

white police officers feel about Negro policemen. Also in chapter six he only

discusses how the Negro policemen think the white community feels about them.

He should have interview residents in the white community and ask how they feel

about Negroes patrolling their town. Alex presented findings in and interesting

manor. He includes mostly all of the questions he asked, and then paraphrased

different answers from different policemen. The audience most likely to read

this book is the black community.

I believe that this book is written in a one sided manor As I

previously wrote the author only interviewed black policemen. He should have at

least found out how the whites feel about the Negro policemen. The information

in this book is very outdated. I would like to see the author or one of his

colleagues write a similar book dealing with today’s society. I believe it

would be very interesting.