Misleading Studies and Recommendations Lead To Repackaging Failed Policies

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Misleading Studies and Recommendations Lead To Failed Policies in African-American Communities.

I read The Crime Report almost every day.  It’s a news service that is read by professionals in the criminal system.  What strikes me about this service are the studies and the policy recommendations reported.   In virtually every review I read thus far, the recommendations don’t appear to address the problem.  Granted, I am not an epidemiologist or a researcher, but I have years of reading and reviewing well-vetted studies.


Today I read the article, How Building Police Legitimacy Can Foil the ‘No-Snitching’ Culture. The article discussed a study looking at why African Americans at risk for black on black crime don’t “snitch.” Based on that small sample, the findings should be used to direct large well-designed research. However, according to the article review, the study made policy recommendations that were old strategies cloaked in ‘innovative’ packaging.


The study was a qualitative one of interviews with 50 African-American young adults, aged 18-29, from two “violence-plagued” New York neighborhoods.  The goal of the study was to understand and break the “no snitching” culture of African Americans deemed at “high-risk” for being victims or perpetrators of crimes. The study did not look at the “no snitching” culture of the men and women paid and sworn to protect and serve the community but instead looked at communities victimized by law enforcement and the criminal system.  The study size was small and therefore, did not appear to meet the criteria necessary to draw reliable conclusions, let alone make policy recommendations.


Also, the study appeared biased, and the recommendations did not seem to support the findings.  The study was an example of a survey used by the criminal system to double down on the war on drugs by focusing on nonfatal crimes as a means to force the community to “snitch.” Unfortunately, the findings that could help the community develop trusting relationships with law enforcement and the criminal system were missed or ignored or not considered relevant.


The interviews conducted in December 2017 in The Bronx and Brooklyn sought to understand why those “at-risk” shun cooperation with law enforcement.  Findings published in Criminology & Public Policy, the journal of the American Society of Criminology.  The report titled, “Oh Hell No, We Don’t Talk To Police.”


One interviewee, identified only as “Maurice,” summed up the prevailing ethos described by the authors:

A cop would arrest me for just being me, I got arrested for just walking, I just got arrested for a bunch of nonsense, so when it comes to cops…they will arrest you for having a pencil.


Based on comments from the interview, part of the problem appeared to be fear and distrust of law enforcement. The study circumvented this recurrent and pivotal finding to recommend more focus on gun control and non-fatal crimes.  According to the article, which was well-written, the study recommended more resources be invested in nonfatal incidents.  Such a recommendation would double down on nonfatal crimes that justified the deaths of Mike Brown and even Eric Garner.  It was another study that supported bigotry and a war on communities of color under the pretext of protecting the community.


A Pew Research Center study, (a separate study), showed a racial divide in how white communities view police as opposed to how communities of color view police. While 75% of whites think cops do an “excellent job” in using “the right amount of force for each situation,” only 33% of blacks concurred.  That was in agreement with the study that showed cynicism about police motives in black neighborhoods.


The findings, as well as findings from other studies, strongly support more research about the perception of police brutality, police misconduct, and police bias in communities of color.


If the purpose of the study was to get community cooperation, shouldn’t the solution address the community’s perception of the problem?


Why would anyone lend a helping hand to law enforcement if they feel that hand and more will be chopped off in the process?


African Americans feel law enforcement, and the criminal system don’t value Black lives. They cannot trust the criminal justice system to be fair and just.  Many Blacks feel it matters not whether we cooperate or not, the system needs to feed on our bodies for profit. Our cooperation will drag us into a system designed to work against African-Americans.  Often death and devastation follow when communities of color cooperate with law enforcement and that perpetuates a culture of non-cooperation or “no snitch.”  Yes, the fear of perpetrator repercussion is another factor, mostly, because the community cannot trust law enforcement to protect it if members cooperate. 


Doubling down on nonfatal crime as prevention is what we see today: the mass incarceration of the poor, mentally ill, homeless and people of color. The misinterpreted broken windows policy was and still is a landmark example of that approach. It was used to justify racial profiling, a war on poverty, and police killings of innocent people of color.   This study interviewed only 50 Black young adults. It made a recommendation to be tougher on nonfatal crimes, partly as a means to force African Americans to “snitch.” The study did not look at the “high-risk” factors that underly nonfatal crimes, such as mental illness, poverty, or unemployment.


In summary, this study supported using nonfatal crimes as a carrot n stick to break the “no-snitch” culture in African-American communities instead of focusing on a broken criminal system.  A system that incarcerates over a third of innocent people and justifies the murder of an untracked number of innocent people in its custody.


Author: Angela Grant

Angela Grant is a medical doctor. For 22 years, she practiced emergency medicine and internal medicine. She studied for one year at Harvard T. H Chan School Of Public Health. She writes about culture, race, and health.

10 thoughts on “Misleading Studies and Recommendations Lead To Repackaging Failed Policies

  1. It’s good seeing new posts from you, Angela! That was an intelligent post while we can certainly agree about the double standards of law enforcement, you brought up aspects I had never thought of before. It’s sad how much The Crime Report doesn’t cover.

    1. Curtis, how are you? Thank you. What other aspects did the post bring out?

      The Crime Report keeps me up to date on social justice news, but I’ve yet to be satisfied with the coverage. I feel like they add credibility to studies that are undeserving and quite frankly BS. The foundational belief behind criminology is shaky and very heavily tilted to one side.

      1. Angela, I’m doing fine. I’ve been working on a new Ospreyshire album and I finished some drafts of some film reviews for one of my blogs. Thanks for asking.

        The biggest thing for me was the snitching aspect in terms of nonfatal crimes. I didn’t realize the psychological ramifications of getting Black people to snitch on others for nonfatal and petty crimes. After what happened in Dayton and El Paso, this shows a stark contrast. I just watched a video earlier today from the African Diaspora News Channel FKA The Advise Show and Phil did a video where some things really stood out to me. He said “Mass murderers have privilege.” which really put things into perspective and how the White Supremacist influenced Injustice system is a family, so no one is going to snitch on each other whenever heinous crimes happen. They see the culprits as family whether they are related to them or not.

        Sure thing. I’m not surprised by the unilateral reporting on crime in this country.

  2. It’s a simple point. We as Black Africans NEVER had justice from the devils. So Black people should not be surprised of the results. Rest assured it’s not going unpunished because there is a Higher Court to stand in front of

    1. Just last week, a friend pointed out that Trump’s behavior is typical of human nature and that people like her and me were aliens for caring. At first, I didn’t get it, but when she pointed to history, it gave me food for thought.

      I’m not a religious person. I do believe Black people need to do more than pray or hope to get justice from a system created and controlled by descendants of slave owners.

      1. I’m not in re-LIE-gion but in African spirituality which Black must go back to in order be our Divine Selves. We can kill the system and the beasts by being who we are. Dump Trump is not HUE-man and neither is the beasts

        1. You know people have difficulty being themselves. They get lost in a world that’s constantly telling them who they are. That’s a problem many Black people face.

      2. the anonymous comment is me, wrong button was pressed. We have also marched, protested, boycotted and the devils are still here. So now what?

  3. Hello Angela! Excellent composition! Tell me you been around for a while, will the system ever correct the injustices? Is true equality just a pipe dream ? If we have no faith in this system, what or who do we turn to?

    1. Thank you, Rudy. Good question, what do you think?

      I don’t think it ever will if those who designed the system remain in control. With current systems, true equality will never happen. It’s not a matter of turning to anyone as opposed to changing racist structural systems that give whites an advantage and deny black people access.

      When I did my residency, a white homeless person could walk through the ER and go to the floors without anyone asking if he belonged there. I worked there, and almost every week, I was stopped and asked my identity. Systems like that don’t change on their own.

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