Violence between police and young black men is a longstanding issue that has gained national attention in recent years due to high-profile violent encounters. We conducted 48 semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders from different groups (young black men aged 14–24 years, parents, educators, police officers, and staff in youth serving organizations). Stakeholders were asked to (1) identify causes of violent encounters between police and young black men; (2) describe police officers who serve in their communities; and (3) describe interactions between police and young black men. Data were collected and analyzed using thematic analysis and content analysis methods. All stakeholder groups except police felt that violent encounters between police and young black men were caused by officers lacking a connection with communities. Fear and distrust across stakeholder groups was also seen as a cause of violent encounters; youth feared police after having seen or heard of violent encounters, while officers feared youth due to the availability of firearms and previous assaults on officers. Several stakeholder groups recognized that racism and prejudice among police was another cause of violence between police and young black men. Positive interactions between police and youth were seen as the result of established, trusting relationships developed over time. Future efforts to prevent violent encounters between police and young black men should engage multiple stakeholder groups. One avenue for engagement is through community mobilization efforts that foster collaboration, build community trust, and encourage implementation of policies, programs, and practices that prevent future violent encounters.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was supported by a grant from the Center for Healthy African American Men (NIH U54MD008620) and by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number T32CA163184 (Michele Allen, MD, MS; PI).
© 2020, The New York Academy of Medicine.