The bottom line is that Americans, and especially African-Americans living in poor neighborhoods, don't want to be "doubly victimized – victimized by crime and [also by] the response to crime," says Wesley Skogan, a political scientist at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and author of "Community Policing: Can It Work?"
Among the most visible changes in policing is the racial composition of police departments themselves, which today are closer reflections of the communities they protect. The LAPD, which polices one of the most ethnically and racially diverse cities on the globe, is 59 percent nonwhite.
Nationally, 10 to 11 percent of police officers are black, compared with 13.4 percent of the population, says Ron Hampton, executive director of Blacks in Law Enforcement of America.
It's not necessarily the case, however, that a more diverse police force changes the public perception of a department, especially in poor, black communities where residents' views about police are generally the most critical and distrustful, say criminologists and other researchers.