This study examined changes in policing practices in Arab-American neighborhoods after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 ("9/11").
Surveys in 16 sites across the country where Arab-Americans were geographically concentrated found that many Arab-American respondents were troubled by increased government scrutiny of their communities following 9/11. Some reported they were more afraid of law enforcement agencies, particularly Federal agencies, than they were of being victims of hate crimes. They specifically mentioned fears about immigration enforcement, surveillance of their activities, and racial profiling. The study identified four obstacles to improved relations between police and Arab-American communities. One barrier is a persistent mutual mistrust; a second is police agencies' lack of knowledge about and sensitivity to the culture and religion of Arab-Americans. The two other barriers are language differences and Arab-American concerns about immigration status and deportation. The study--which included surveys of local law enforcement officers and FBI agents in local field offices at each site--also produced some recommendations for ways to improve relations between Arab-American communities and local law enforcement agencies/officers. Many of the recommendations reflect the priorities and practices of community policing. Recommendations include the creation of a police-community liaison position within local police departments, the recruitment of police officers from Arab-American communities, and the training of officers in the cultural and religious values of Arab-American communities. Such training should include guidance on how to deal with Arab-Americans' mistrust of law enforcement officers. For each site, researchers conducted telephone interviews with individuals from three groups: members of the Arab-American community, local law enforcement officers, and FBI agents in local field offices. Focus groups and in-person interviews were conducted at four sites. 4 notes
Date Published: July 1, 2008