A Study of the Negro Policeman: Book Review

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A Study of the Negro Policeman: Book Review


by Nicholas Alex
Appleton-Century-Crofts
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 org

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