It has happened to actors such as Wesley Snipes, Will Smith, Blair Underwood, and LeVar Burton. It has happened to football player Marcus Allen, Olympic athletes Al Joyner and Edwin Moses, and it has happened to attorney Johnnie Cochran. Police officers stop question and even search black drivers who have committed no crime, based on the excuse that a traffic offense has occurred. The term black Americans use for these stops is Driving while Black or DWB.
Driving while black is a prime example of racial profiling. The issue of racial profiling in America is one of great importance to the future of American society, and regrettably, is not a new issue. For decades black Americans have complained about this practice.
Law enforcement officials across our great nation deny that racial profiling occurs, but an overwhelming majority of the black community believes that racial profiling is practiced on a daily basis. During the Civil Rights Era, racial profiling was a major issue, thousands of black Americans were unnecessarily stopped and arrested based on their skin color alone.
Yet, after all of our progress since that torrid period of our past, we continue to fight for the stoppage of racial profiling in the year 2000. This issue screams to be addressed by the government and abolished in American society if we truly desire our country to be The Land of the Free, that we all know and love.
Racism, and stereotyping in general, are issues that date back many centuries. It would seem that skin color alone may very well make you a suspect in America, and more likely to be stopped by our law enforcement personnel.
The war on drugs has given police a license to target those people who they believe fit the profile of a drug dealer or a gang member. The prevailing perception in American society today is that most drug traffickers and gang members are minorities, mostly blacks.
However, a quick check into the demographics that make up these two groups of people will prove this to be very untrue. Racial profiling is based on the premise that minorities commit most drug offenses. Because of this overriding thought, police search for illegal substances primarily among black Americans, finding an uneven number actually in possession of these substances.
These persons are arrested, thereby reinforcing the belief that drug trafficking is mostly limited to the black culture. All the while, white drivers receive far less police attention, affording the drug dealers among this group of people to go free.
This adds to the perception that whites commit far fewer drug offenses than minorities. The unfortunate result is the innocent people are often persecuted based on their skin color alone. Statistics prove the use and selling of drugs are not limited to minorities in America; in fact, five times as many whites use drugs.
From the outset of the war on drugs, minorities have been targeted. According to our own governmental reports 80 percent of the country s cocaine users are white, and the typical cocaine user is a white middle-class suburbanite.
But law enforcement tactics remain concentrated in the inner city, continuing to feed the perception that drug dealers and users are black. This allowed the drug courier profile, which possesses racial overtones, to take hold. (Harris 7).
Media attention to this issue has been on the rise over approximately the last five years. In the past twelve months alone, front-page stories and editorials have appeared not only in the major national newspapers but many local papers as well. Talk to almost any black person in the country and you will hear personal accounts of unjustified traffic stops by the police.
These numerous accounts leave one with the perception that our police forces are using race as the primary basis for making a majority of traffic stops (Green 6A). It is never pleasant being a victim of racial profiling, often it turns into a very humiliating and degrading encounter. When verbally relating the incidents that resulted from racial profiling, it is difficult to express the degree of pain, humiliation, and mental anguish that one has been subjected to.
Harvard lawyer, Robert L. Wilkens, and his family were traveling from a funeral in a rented Cadillac when he was stopped for speeding. The state trooper ordered Wilkens, his aunt, uncle, and a cousin out of their vehicle and into the rain, for the purpose of searching the car for drugs. Wilkens recalls seeing a young white boy, about six years old, in a passing car with his face pressed against the window and he couldn t help but to think what image will forever be in this little boy’s head? Will it contribute to the stereotype about blacks, or maybe an unwarranted fear of black men (Green 6A)? There were no drugs to be found, We
were completely humiliated, says Wilkens. Twenty-nine-year-old Rep. Harold E. Ford, Jr. (D-Tenn.) told a reporter that he was stopped by a Washington, DC police officer who demanded to see his ID. When the policeman examined the ID he could not believe that Rep. Ford was a member of Congress and that he was driving such a nice car. At which point Rep.
Ford told him, If I was treated this way, I can t imagine how folks who don t have the access to the things I do as a member of Congress are treated. Kweisi Mfume, the president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), was pulled over while driving the interstate at night and alone, the police initially thought he had stolen the car he was driving. It wasn’t until the policeman found out who Mr. Mfume was that they let him go (Davis 42).
Statistics on racial profiling are alarming; studies in New Jersey and Maryland both demonstrate the prevalence of racial profiling. For instance, 77 percent of motorists searched on the New Jersey turnpike were black or Hispanic, although 60 percent of all persons stopped were white. Similarly, 70 percent of the drivers stopped on a stretch of Interstate 95 in Maryland from January 1995 to September 1996 were black, despite the fact that blacks made up just 17 percent of the drivers (of all speeds) on that road.
The evidence gets even more disturbing, an innocent black driver in the state of Maryland is four times more likely to be searched than an innocent white driver, despite the fact that such practices were banned in the state (Taylor). Profiling is not limited to race; other characteristics such as age and dress are also used as “warning signals” by police officers. This poses a problem, especially when the police wrongfully harass people, just what is the profiling dress code?
A baseball cap, worn at any angle, accounts for 10 percent of the stops. A bandanna, particularly red or blue, hints gang involvement, and an XXL hooded sweatshirt account for 20 percent of the stops. Sagging, baggy trousers, especially jeans, accounts for 30 percent of the stops. Expensive high-top sneakers, unlaced, suggest prison time and accounts for 10 percent of the stops. White people wearing Similar clothes are rarely stopped (Barovick 43).
The reality – if you are a youth in the inner city and dress hip-hop or walk with a little pride; the police “profile” you as a likely “gang-banger.” If you are a well-paid suburban professional, driving a luxury car, to the police you “fit the profile” of a major drug dealer or car thief.
Police officers are supposed to protect and serve every citizen! The practice of profiling has “helped breed a deeply corrosive mistrust of law enforcement (Shipler 384). Young minority males get the wrong message at an early age from law enforcement officials, causing distrust of the police, and reduced willingness to cooperate with the police.
If the black community does not trust the police, how are they supposed to support the community as a whole? If there is a crime committed within the community, this bred distrust makes it less likely that someone will come forward, regardless of the fact that they possess vital information that may help solve this crime. The history of police and community interaction has been characterized not by trust, but by mutual distrust (Meeks 24).
Police officials continue to deny their personnel practice racial profiling on routine stops. Political opposition to the practice of racial profiling is mounting, President Clinton has it “morally indefensible” and has ordered federal law enforcement officials to collect information on the race and sex of people they stop. Vice President Al Gore has promised to ban racial profiling by federal authorities (Rogers 94).
Police officials constantly argue that stories of racist police stops are “simply anecdotal evidence,” and do not prove there are patterns or approved policies regarding racial profiling. At the same time, reactionary politicians and police officials both oppose any attempt to document which persons actually get stopped and why.
For example, California’s former Governor Pete Wilson vetoed a bill requiring police in his state to collect data on the nationality, gender, and age of everyone they stop. Similar bills have failed to pass legislation in Texas and other states, including the United States Congress. However, hundreds of people have refused to quietly accept the outrageous abuses that result from racial profiling and continue to expose it (Jackson 5A).
There are several steps being undertaken in an effort to rid our country of racial profiling. The Traffic Stops Statistics Act, introduced by Rep. John Conyers (D- Mich.), will provide for the collection of data on each traffic stop to include the race of the driver and whether or not a search was conducted, to include why it was conducted.
The bill has brought awareness to the country on racial profiling. The purpose behind this bill is two-fold; one, to put to rest the question as to whether or not racial profiling exists; and two, to bring awareness to the entire country that racial profiling is a problem that needs to be addressed in our legislature. As of the writing of this paper, the bill is yet to pass, but there are plans to reintroduce it during the next session of Congress for another vote.
Many states have decided to take action on their own and have started to collect data on police stops within their boundaries. The San Diego, California Police Chief decided it was in the best interest of his department to start collecting this data.
He needed to know if his officers were enforcing the law based on violations or based on some sort of racial profile. Police in over 30 cities in California, as well as certain police departments in Michigan, Florida, Houston, and Rhode Island, are also collecting data (Loftus 8A). This data collection will allow our police departments to take actions of their own in determining whether or not their officers are practicing racial profiling, and the steps needed for correction. Resulting in better police departments, communities, and improved relations overall.
More and more, victims of racial profiling are filing lawsuits in an effort to challenge this practice in open court and draw attention to this countrywide practice. Robert L. Wilkins won $95,000 from the Maryland State Police Department, along with an agreement from them to provide data on highway stops (Kinnon 64). These lawsuits should make police officers think twice before utilizing racial profiling as a measuring tool when determining who should and should not be stopped.
In order to bring the problem of racial profiling under control, we need to pass the Traffic Stops Statistics Act requiring all law enforcement personnel to collect data on traffic stops in an effort to determine if profiling is being used as a daily practice. Police officers have to be trained and educated on race relations in an effort to more effectively communicate with the constituents that they serve.
All citizens want the criminals caught, but the methods that we employ to that end must choose with caution. Innocent people should not be arrested, or worse yet killed, because they fit the profile. Racial profiling is not just a problem that is limited to black America but affects every American who believes in basic fairness. Driving while black destroys the ideal that holds us together as a nation, Equal Justice.
In today’s world, we live in a very media driven manner. The media can sway people’s attitudes towards a certain direction depending on the circumstances. Racial Profiling is a very sensitive topic every individual can relate to. It is known as the inclusion of racial or ethnic characteristics in determining whether an individual is considered likely to commit a particular type of crime or illegal act.
For example, the media has “essentialized” the meaning of terrorism destroying the sweet religion of Islam. The word essentializing means combining complex terms into a single thought or image making it simpler. Due to racial profiling, we regard terrorists as any type of brown male. It is the society we live in and hence we have no choice to deal with it.
What exactly does the term racial profiling meaning? One could say that it is the consideration of race in criminal investigations. “For example, the popular term “DWB”, means that black people are more scrutinized and thought of when driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (Geek). It is also a state of imagery that comes to mind when thinking of a crime; one tends to think of African Americans as the cause of most crimes. It is very unfair for them but that is the society we live in.
Even though many “Black People” do live in the ghettos, it is unjust to tie them with most crimes such as gang wars, drive-by shootings and thefts. The media contributes to 90 percent of these stereotypes (Geek). Like in the inner-city African Americans are criticized for their actions, while the Latin Americans are blamed for most drug Page 2 deals. Derogatory terms such as nigger and spic are all part of the racial profiling debacle (Harris).
Racial profiling has made its stamp in communities. On one side we have the bad where we tend to classify certain individuals into stereotypical groups. But on the other hand, we have applications of racial profiling to help select certain minority groups for appropriate occupations and universities (Mccarthy).
As former prosecutor, Andy McCarthy took some terms of racial profiling into his own hand. He stated that “you can’t be an Islamist terrorist without being a Muslim, you can’t be the head of the Gambino Family without being Italian, and you can’t be a Mexican illegal alien without being a Mexican (Mccarthy).” Yes, his argument is up for debate but usually, these are the people associated with the associated crimes.
Coining certain people with specific crimes is the way our society works (Meeks). Conversely, one can look at it from an educational standpoint. Are all brown people doctors, are all African Americans athletes? There is good and bad to racial profiling. But it is up to the individual to correctly determine how she or she wants to define it.
One might wonder how racial profiling started. The term was first coined in the 1970s while punishing drug traffickers (Justice). In 1985, the Drug Enforcement Administration created a program called Operation Pipeline. This program was constituted of police officers who were trained in a specific manner to target individuals who drove in certain areas based on their age and race (Meeks).
The famous racial profiling case White vs. Williams represents this cause, where minority motorists were stopped along the New Jersey Turnpike (Justice). Thus, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey had a major victory in its legal efforts to end Page 3racial profiling when the court refused to dismiss a claim that state officials acted with deliberate indifference to evidence of discrimination against minority motorists.
Basically the DEA program was created to prevent drug trafficking, but the police started to unfairly arrest more African American and Hispanic male drivers based on the suspicion of committing the crime (Justice). However, throughout decades of research and training police are now better equipped to make such judgments. That is not to say some officers can be prejudice against a certain group, but more or less the inferences of criminals based on race have improved.
Racial profiling is a very wide subject. One can come up with numerous examples stating its advantages and disadvantages. We can make a case that in the post 9/11 era that racial profiling towards certain groups has increased in a negative manner. The media has destroyed the Islamic religion calling it evil due to terrorist activity. Unfairly Islam is now mixed with the word terrorism.
There have been numerous cases where officials had suspected random terrorist action by catching the wrong person. For instance, take the Diallo case of 1999 where Cops shot a random man who was an immigrant because they thought he fit the description of another colored rapist in the area (Fritsch). The cops knocked on his door and while the man reached to get his wallet from his pocket the cops shot him thinking that he was armed (Fritsch). This case could be perceived as the highest point of negative racial profiling. But it is the situation some individuals have put themselves in to give a bad name to the people of their color.
Osama Bin Laden has killed the people of his race indirectly. Though racial profiling can be helpful in certain cases it is inaccurate most of the time. Racial Profiling is pretty much a blatant stereotype. The media will always use it to prove their cause. However, society must realize that every race is like a deck of cards. Some are 2’s, 3’s, and 4’s while others are aces and kings even without one on those cards the deck is incomplete. That is how our society should be viewed. We cannot hate or discriminate based on race, but sadly in our world perception beat reality creating unequivocal problems.
Example #3 – Racial Profiling/Police Officers
Racial profiling, the act of categorizing, the targeting of a particular group of cultures with a view towards labeling those individuals law enforcers believe are engaged in illegal activities. Does Racial Profiling still exist today? “He would kill me if I was the one going to the newspapers.” Words said by a newspaper editor threatened to death by Chicago Police officers. In today s society, many minorities are faced with racists police officers all around the United States. In recent years thousands of reported incidents due to racial profiling is done by police have been reported. But is our government doing anything about it? Is it true police officers are here to protect and serve?
The thought of police officers abusing their power scares many of us but the truth is it always happens every day but nothing is done about it. Racism has come along way in the past 30 years. But it still exists and is a constantly reoccurring issue. Racism not only deals with color or nationality, but also includes, age, sex, and physical characteristics.
The problem is that racism affects the way that people perform their jobs, specifically the police force. Some officers of the law have racist feelings against different groups of people. What effect does this have on the public and the reputation of the police force? The citizens of the United States expect the police force to protect and serve them. That s their job. Some police officers’ opinions affect the way that they perform their jobs.
For instance, in the past, there have been a couple of cases where officers have stopped a black man driving his car and beaten him. Not because he s trying to get away or anything of that nature, but because he is black and the police officers don t like black people. Officers have also stopped other minorities because the police assumed that because of who they are that they must be doing something wrong.
What effect do these prejudices have on society and their view of the police force? When police abuse their power and harass people for racist reasons, it makes people feel that they cannot count or trust the police. It also creates tension between the police and the public. For example: when the trial of Rodney King versus the Los Angeles police department reached a verdict unsatisfactory to the public, it caused a riot. People were beaten, stores were looted, and fires were started. How can people count on the police to be there when they are needed if they know that certain officer’s don t like them because of who they are?
Why should a black person or teenager be worried about driving his or her Mercedes-Benz down the street because they might get stopped and harassed? The reputation of the police department is the way it is because of bad cops who do things like this. Racism by police affects the way that they perform their job and makes people not trust them. It also causes unnecessary injuries, and separation between police and the public. In all, these actions have created a police department that is unequal, corrupt, and unpredictable.
Incidents, where police officers have been charged with racial profiling, have to come to many court cases for instance, from the Racial Profiling Exposed articles states in GLENCOE, Ill. Three somber-faced representatives of the U.S. Congress March 24 peered into the eyes of white Highland Park, Ill. cops who told “unbelievable tales” of the discriminatory process plaguing police departments across the nation called “racial profiling.” The officers said they used code words like “sombrero” to refer to Hispanic drivers and a “load of coal,” cop talk for a car full of Blacks. Officer Coursey said traffic enforcement through racial profiling had become the “tool for those who can t think and follow their own thoughts.
Most every police officer that was a field-training officer has become a sergeant or some type of advanced rank. The message they re sending to young police officers is racial profiling is good condoned rewarded,” he said. “When racial profiling is encouraged and taught by police management, it is particularly insidious and undermines not only freedom but trust between the community and its local law enforcement agencies,” the statement said. The article states many problems that occur in police forces around the country. Hundred others reports have been filed and 85% of them never reach a verdict or the case is closed.
In Milwaukee’s report, seven of every 10 traffic citations, a city that is half white, are issued to minorities. Other incidents include Laurel Riggs, a 42-year-old marketing representative who was in his car driving to the Vine, a bar, and a restaurant in Scottsdale. He noticed a police officer signally his to pull over. They demanded to see his driver s license and registration, keeping their hands on their guns the entire time.
The incident shocked him and after several hours of the police searching his cars, they let him go with a minor citation. In December 1998 in Phoenix, Arizona David Calvin James, age 47, with no criminal record, was jumped by the police who beat him with a flashlight and fists and sprayed his face repeatedly with pepper spray. He was taken to jail but released for lack of evidence. According to James’ lawyer, His only sin was that he was in a drug area, walking alone and he was black The severe beating cost James the use of his left arm and he has filed a lawsuit for damages against the Phoenix Police Department. This shows that victims of racial profiling have been damaged for life yet the justice department seems to not care.
Abusive police officers are bound to have more citations given out than any other. One evening in March 1999, Keith Hamilton left a liquor store and got in his car. He soon realized that he was being followed by a squad car, and after five blocks, he was pulled over. They told me to get out of the car. After rummaging his car and throwing all the papers in his glove compartment, and pulling out all the speakers the police let him go with a simple apology without fixing their damages. The only reason for his pulling over was that he came out of a liquor store and he was black.
In the book The Country of Strangers by David Shipler, it states his bibliography and his travels around the country; he states, In all my travels and interviews across the United States, I rarely met a black male who had not been unjustly hassled by a white police officer. Why do cops use racial profiling? Officers do this thru their own joy and hate. Causes of pulling over a car would be minorities driving late at night through a white part of town, driving a fancy car, riding his new bike in front of his own house, or simply strolling back to his dorm at prestige college.
Although many police officers have got away with racial profiling. There are some government institutions that take proactive steps to help combat racial profiling. Such as the PSOA a program that prevents racism in police-community. In response to highly publicized reports of police officers using a person’s ethnicity to determine who is pulled over for traffic stops, the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety has adopted a program to explore its own practices. As part of the system, officers will record the race, age, and sex of offenders when they are pulled over, along with the reason for the stop and the outcome.
Over the past years since this organization has been developed studies have seen indicating that blacks and other minorities are pulled over in a disproportionate number of times. Some areas, which are major in the African American population, do have a distinct difference but areas such as Sunnyvale have an African American population of 4%.
Atlantic City, 75 arrested while protesting racial profiling. Five busloads of protesters wearing t-shirts emblazoned with New Jersey, the Police State on the front and Stop the Korrupt Kop Killers, Christine Whiteman, and her hitmen on the back. The protesters were here to fight for justice and to seek the publics’ attention to help stop the racism in police-community. The demonstration was called to attract attention to racial profiling, the targeting of specific minorities for traffic stops. Among the people arrested were the mother and sister of Stanton drew, a black motorist who was shot to death by police on Interstate 80 last month.
With the arresting of these people, it shows the damaging effect is having on the police department the stereotypes that develop through peoples minds telling them if Police officers are here to protect and serve done little to fight harassment and discrimination The demonstration came one day after a review team released a report that said state police have done little to fight harassment and discrimination within the ranks and have lagged in the recruitment of women and minorities.
The report also called for the creation of a permanent civilian review panel to oversee state police. In the end, all was canceled and not a thing was to be done. More protestors came but were mostly arrested after several weeks the protestors called it quits. We have witnessed the incidents, heard about them, maybe even been a victim of it. But because of these protestors being denied the right to protest against police shows that the country police departments in all states are hiding something from the public, that if released, would damage the police community severely.
Racial profiling is still a constant problem and most likely will never be fixed. We can now say that the police department serves and protects under certain conditions. Until people stand up again to racial profiling it will never stop and police officers all over the country will continue to torment and abuse their powers.
Example #4 – The Race Against Racial Profiling
The great era of civil rights started in the 1960s, with Martin Luther King, Jr.’s stirring? I have a Dream? speech at the historic march on Washington in August of 1963. At the same time Birmingham Police Commissioner “Bull” Connor used powerful fire hoses and vicious police attack dogs against nonviolent black civil rights activists. Although these years proved to be the highlight and downfall of civil rights in America, even with the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act being passed, the time has repeated these tumultuous events again in the present.
Racial profiling has been one of many civil rights issues concerning the unnecessary stopping and arresting of people based on race, color, ethnicity, and gender. Skin-color has become evidence of the propensity to commit a crime, and police use this “evidence” against minority drivers on the road all the time. This practice is so common that the minority community has given it the derisive term, “Driving While Black or Brown”? a play on the real offense of “driving while intoxicated”.
Although many law enforcement officers defend themselves by saying they are fighting against the “War on Drugs” by arresting these law offenders, recent trials and reports show that no basis of arrest has been found against these minorities. Official skin-color prejudice is still reflected throughout the criminal justice system.
Today, skin-color makes you a suspect in America. It makes you more likely to be stopped by a law enforcement officer, more likely to be searched, and more likely to be arrested and imprisoned. Tens of thousands of innocent motorists on highways across the country are victims of racial profiling, and these discriminatory police stops have reached epidemic proportions in recent years. Fueled by the “War on Drugs”, this fight has given police a pretext to target people who they think fit a “drug courier” or “gang member” profile.
At many times, these minorities have been stopped and arrested for illegal offenses, however, we are not sure if these stories have been filed truthfully by law enforcement officers. Many police departments face issues concerning racist law enforcement officers who cause the problems of racial profiling. One such example comes from the Hillside Police Department, where several racial bias charges have been made against them. Racial slurs have become common in the Hillside district, where even the department supervisor does background checks on minorities IN the squad, even to kick them off the squad. In this department, only two officers are Hispanic and one is of African descent.
The officers, many of whom are white, are encouraged to target minorities first to fill their ticket quotas for the month. Hillside officers defend themselves saying that Hillside is 40 percent black and 20 percent Hispanic. However, the actions were taken by Hillside officers, such as targeting to fill quotas and background checking, seem disconcerting. The Reverend Jesse Jackson even needed to call for federal protection for whistleblowing police officers.
Because of the Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act, passed this year, other officials who witness this discriminating act are protected. Does it say, ?The identity of a law enforcement officer who complains in food faith to a government agency or department about the unlawful practices of a law enforcement agency shall remain confidential and shall not be disclosed by any person except upon the knowing written consent of the law enforcement officer. This section shall not preempt any right of confrontation protected by the Constitution of by Federal, State, or tribal law.?
In many cases, we can not determine whether racial profiling comes from the individual law enforcer, or the department itself. Many policies have been suggested to either report these discriminatory acts, or to record the ethnicity, race, or gender of the person being stopped. However, without the correct supervision of these officers, we can not truthfully tell whether these policies will be followed.
There have been bills proposed to even make the slightest positive effect on racial profiling, yet many have been overlooked. Former California Governor Pete Wilson served as best he could to fight key civil rights issues such as affirmative action and immigrant rights, however, Governor Gray Davis has had a disappointing civil rights record.
Although he has helped establish new civil rights gains for the lesbian and gay communities, he has also vetoed a number of bills aimed at reducing discrimination against communities of color and immigrants. SB 44, a bill sponsored by Senator Richard Polanco, encourages state and local governments to conduct outreach programs. SB 44 had bipartisan support and was previously endorsed by former Attorney General Dan Lungren.
Governor Davis vetoed the bill claiming that outreach toward minorities and women would violate Proposition 209, a position contrary to recent court decisions. Davis also vetoes what has been colloquially referred to as the “Driving While Black or Brown” bill (SB 78.)
The bill was proposed to combat racial profiling? law enforcement actions are taken simply because of the race of the driver? by requiring police officers to file reports on all motorists they stop. Although President Clinton has recently ordered federal law enforcement agencies to begin collecting this data, and a number of Bay Area police departments have similar plans, Davis saw little need to collect this information. However, the “Driving While Black or Brown” bill makes much sense to the part of the solution I will propose to help decrease or even end the crime of racial profiling.
Although there have been many ideas brought up to solve racial profiling in American, there still isn’t one dynamic and problem-solving solution. Many bills have been passed to help and protect minorities, who can bring their cases all the way to court, however, sometimes the officers being accused are not found. Though my proposed solution is not the most money conserving idea, it will cover almost all the faulty lines, the bills, and the policies have forgotten to mention.
A committee should be established within the United States Government in which the committee shall oversee each county and district and department for any racial profiling. These members should be made up of civil rights organizations such as the NAACP and the ACLU. Also, there should be advising law enforcement officers and people appointed from each civil rights division in the government. Within districts, officials shall be appointed to oversee the actions of the departments and report to higher authorities in the committee.
A committee similar to this has been formed because of the Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act of 2000, called the Task Force on Law Enforcement Oversight. Each department should first make an independent audit. There have been many policies made and almost approved to make these audits mandatory for all police departments. Each person should record the following: race, color, ethnicity, gender, and the reason for being stopped. Every 4 months or so, the committee shall evaluate each district and their statistics on what kinds of people are being stopped and determine which city has higher minority stopping, based on the population of the area and racial crime in the area.
Because Americans are segregated into communities, as in the Greater Los Angeles Area, more minorities will be stopped in certain areas than others will. Because of this problem, the committee will evaluate the area, and observe data written by law enforcement officers, to see if plausible reasons have caused the stopping of a minority.
Once all data has been evaluated, the districts with the highest racial profiling rating shall complete a full audit report for the following months. Also, individual law enforcement shall be evaluated as well, to see if it is only one individual who increases the rating, rather than the whole department. If the racial profiling is targeted and found, the committee shall be the one who files complaints to the Attorney General, and that certain department or law enforcer will be detained to consequences can be established. To be able to bring these racial profilers to trial, people should not only file a complaint to the department itself, fear of the complaint being ?lost?, but to the committee as well so the complaint can be used as evidence.
This solution can only work if districts, departments, and law enforcement officers can truthfully carry out these procedures. No matter how hard the outside world tries to find the culprit, the officer can easily protect or defend themselves because of their high position as a law protector. Many minorities are arrested with valid reason by law enforcement officers, just as white people are. But these officers can also be the targets of the accusation of racial profiling.
Racial profiling has been a long and disconcerting problem in the United States. It will be a long time before minorities will not serve as targets to law enforcers. The blame is almost easier to put on the minorities because of their difference to the “American Culture”, as almost to say that minorities are not part of the American Culture.
The issue of racial profiling in America is of great importance to the future of American society. This issue fairly new, in terms of being recognized, is old in its ways. Racism and stereotyping are issues that date back hundreds of years ago. Racial profiling in America is one that needs to be addressed by the government and society if we ever want America to truly be, “The Land of The Free.” One of the main examples of racial profiling is called DWB (Driving While Black).
This is a term that started to show itself in cases of racial profiling. For example, in the article “ Ragtime, My Time” Alton Fitzgerald White was wrongfully accused of a crime and was arrested in the lobby of his home. In today’s society, the perception is that most drug traffickers are minorities. This is very untrue.
Racial profiling is based on the premise that most drug offenses are committed by minorities according to officer Carl Williams “It is most likely a minority group that’s involved.”(Color of Suspicion, 427) Because police look for drugs primarily among African-Americans and Latinos, they find an uneven number of them actually in possession of illegal drugs. Therefore these people are arrested, reinforcing the idea that drug trafficking is primarily a Latino or an African-American thing.
At the same time white drivers receive far less police attention, many of the drug dealers and users among them getaway. This just feeds to the perception that whites commit fewer drug offenses than minorities. This often results in the persecution of innocent people based on skin color. This also causes a huge distrust and minorities are less willing to cooperate. Driving While Black is not an issue that just arose it’s just now gaining a name. The
practice of racial profiling by our nation’s police is the consequence of the rising concern about the war on drugs. Drug use and drug selling are not limited to minorities in the US, in fact, five times as many whites use drugs.
One of the major and most well-known cases of racial profiling in the case of Amadou Diallo. Four white officers members of the anti-street crime unit fired 41 shots at Diallo hitting him 19 times. The officers contended that they fired in self-defense. On Feb 4, 1999, after Diallo,22, reached for an object they thought was a gun while he was standing in the vestibule of his apartment.
The object turned out to be his wallet. All four officers were charged with second-degree murder as suspended from there jobs. The officers said that Diallo darted into the entrance of his building and took a combat stance. He pulled out what they perceived as a weapon and opened fire on him. The officers contended that Diallo’s death was a tragic case of self-defense.
The officers were found not guilty on all charges. Diallo was just another black man that fit the profile of a drug dealer simply because he was black. In the case of Alton White, this similar situation occurred, fortunately for him, he was not shot and was set free. He and three other black men were humiliated by being accused of being connected to a crime that they didn’t even fit the description of the two Hispanic men. “Everything from being handcuffed strip-searched, taken in and out of questioning, to be told that they knew exactly who I was and my responsibility to the show and the, in fact, they knew they already had whom they wanted, left me in absolute disbelief.” (Ragtime, My Time; 422). In many cases such as these innocent people like Diallo and Alton, have been victims of racial profiling.
Statistics have a great deal to do with racial profiling. Many officers have used the statistics provided to pull over someone. Statistics can’t always be a good source to follow. Although numbers don’t lie, there still may be some things missing that can be used to show there is a bias against minorities. “A police officer working at the Memphis International Airport testified that at least 75 percent of those followed and questioned at the airport were black.” (Road Rage, 424)
However, this fails to show how many of these people actually committed a crime, and 75 percent could’ve been just three out of four people on one day but could’ve been a lot more white people that could’ve been followed the next.
Racial Profiling is a problem that needs to be addressed by the government and the people of America. On June 9, 1999, Former President Clinton addressed the nation about racial profiling. He ordered federal law enforcement officials to collect data on the race and gender of the people they stop to question or arrest. Clinton also had a discussion with the “Mexican leaders about their alleged harboring of identified drug traffickers…”(Road Rage, 424)
However, he didn’t talk to the European groups, why? Not only because statistics may have shown that Mexicans have more to do with drugs but also because assumptions are made that minorities or non-white people are more likely to cause crime. Certain steps should be taken in order to move toward a better nation. Law enforcement should discontinue pulling over people on hunches and use evidence to base their reasons for pulling someone over. They are stopping people because of their skin color and that is injustice.
More training is needed for law enforcement officials. No one really knows what a “standard procedure” is and therefore police officers can take advantage of that fact. “When I was asked how they could keep me there, or have brought me there in the first place with nothing found and a clean record, I was told it was standard procedure” (Ragtime, My Time 422). There obviously is a problem with the current procedures that police officers are taking. Better or more training should be given to better educate police officers on how and what to do when people look suspicious.
In these articles, it seemed as if the officers did not act with training but with suspicion and that has caused the humiliation and death of many innocent people. Law enforcement needs to gain the trust of the community. Without trust, the community will never feel as if they can go to the police or feel that justice will be served when they have been wronged. Innocent people are being arrested and even killed on suspicions and because they fit the status quo.
Racial profiling is a national problem that is lessening the trust in the people who are supposed to protect us. Every day people of color are scared to do what most people do without a second thought, drive to wherever they need to go. Our country can no longer remain the leader of the world in freedom and democracy when its people are identified as criminals simply because of their skin color. We cannot afford to ignore this issue any further we must take action to ensure that this country is truly a free one.
Racial profiling is a law enforcement strategy that encourages police officers to stop and question African-Americans simply because of their race. Employers and government agencies that require job applicants to list their “race” or “ethnicity” on employment and contracting applications perform racial profiling thousands of times every day. Thus employers can hire the right number of the right colors, according to federal law. This is defined as “good” racial profiling. “Bad” racial profiling occurs when a minority is stopped or arrested by police. The guilt of the individual doesn’t seem to figure into the accusation of “bad” racial profiling.
Racial profiling took off during the highly publicized explosion of crack cocaine in inner-city neighborhoods in the 1980s, which bolstered the perception of drugs as a black problem — even though statistics showed most cocaine users were white. Drug enforcement agencies began using racial profiling to “sweep” neighborhoods and in arresting disproportionate numbers of African-Americans for drug-related offenses. A profile of potential drug users and sellers was developed to assist policemen in picking out and questioning likely offenders. These profiles continue to be used by law enforcement in combating crime.
The current debate on racial profiling has been tied to allegations of police brutality and institutional racism. In response to one shooting of an unarmed black man by a police officer, video cameras were installed in police cruisers in Montgomery and Prince Georges counties in Maryland. A four-year investigation of alleged police brutality in Montgomery County by the Department of Justice resulted in demands that officers must ask drivers their age, sex, and race, and then compile that data for regular reports as a way of monitoring future police behavior toward minority suspects.
Tens of thousands of innocent motorists on highways across the country are victims of racial profiling. And these discriminatory police stops have reached epidemic proportions in recent years – fueled by the “War on Drugs” that has given police a pretext to target people who they think fit a “drug courier” or “gang member” profile. Racial profiling is unfair to minorities as well as not any help to anyone.
Racial-profiling, the practice of targeting individuals for police investigation based on their race alone in the last few years has been an increasingly prominent issue in American society (Abramosky). Numerous magazines, newspapers, and journals have explored the issue of race-motivated police actions. Recently, the ABA Journal did a study of New Jersey traffic stops from 1988 to 1991, concluding that black drivers were more likely to be pulled over and arrested than whites (Ghannam).
The study also delves into the legal ramifications of the 1996 United States Supreme Court ruling in the When v. the United States case which held that a police officer s subjective motivation for stopping a motorist on the highway was irrelevant as long as objectively reasonable bas – such as a traffic violation existed for making the stop (Abramosky).
When court decision validated the pretext stop which occurs when police officers ostensibly stop motorists for traffic violations but are in fact motivated by the desire to obtain evidence of other crimes (Abramosky). Police officers, however, argue that racial profiling is common sense and is a sensible, statistically based tool that enables them to focus their energies efficiently for the purpose of providing protection against crime to law abiding folk (Kennedy).
In Taylor and Whitney s study investigating the existence of an empirical basis for racial profiling and crime, they concluded that society must acknowledge the statistics behind crime rates in order to understand the concept of racial profiling; such information is available in governmental annual crime reports. Statistics are facts and numbers which cannot be disputed and provide the empirical basis for racial profiling. The FBI Bulletin also addressed the necessity to consider statistics in addressing the issue of racial profiling.
However, unlike Taylor and Whitney who argue for the use of statistics to support racial profiling, the FBI Bulletin promotes the usage of statistics in order to reduce and hopefully eliminate racial profiling. The FBI Bulletin states that if agencies were mandated to keep consistent statistical reports on the attributes and nature of their traffic stops, then racial profiling will not be as rampant. A written record of all traffic stops would do so by attributing individual responsibility to the police officers involved in such violations.
The issue of profiling, not only racial profiling, is one that affects both the local and national levels. The focus of my research paper is on the issue of profiling and college students. I intend to research the different perspectives that college students are taking toward the idea of race-motivated police traffic stops. I am investigating the frequency of traffic stops among college students and whether or not race is a factor in such traffic stops.
My research will also take into consideration many other factors that students may contribute to traffic stops (i.e. gender, age, vehicle, location, attire). I will focus on a specific age group in targeting college students and I will even further narrow my focus by targeting college students who live in Orange County.
Though the majority of literature that has been published on this topic focuses mainly on young minority males and the issue of race, I decided to broaden my research to include female subjects of the same age bracket as well as a consideration of many other factors, aside from race (such as age, gender, type of vehicle, location, and attire). Upon compiling my survey, I administered it to 10 different college students of varying ethnic backgrounds. I also dispersed it evenly between 5 male students and 5 female students. The survey asks for a general overview of the individual s history of traffic violations and his/her encounters with the police during such traffic encounters.
The survey also inquires regarding the length of time that the individual has been driving, how many times the individual has been pulled over during that timeframe, the city that the individual drives most frequently in, the type of vehicle the individual drives (or was driving) when pulled over, the person s attire, and the individual s perception of his/her experience(s). A copy of the survey is attached hereto.
In reviewing the survey results, the males, on average, have been pulled over slightly more frequently than females. The five males who were surveyed listed their nationalities as following: Turkish, Colombian, White, Black, and Filipino. Two respondents indicated that they had been stopped 1-3 times whereas one respondent indicated that he had been stopped 4-6 times and the last two respondents indicated that they had been stopped 7-9 times.
The average number of years that the male respondents have been driving is 3.7 years. Of the five surveyed, when asked why he believed that the reason he was initially stopped, the answers varied from location, age, gender, nationality, and vehicle. Two of the five respondents related to his traffic stop to the race.
Of the females surveyed, they listed their nationalities as following: European (white), Thai, Vietnamese, Filipino, and Mexican. On average, females have been pulled over less frequently than males. One female respondent had been stopped 7-9 times whereas two respondents have been stopped 1-3 times and the last two respondents have never been stopped. The average number of years that the female respondents have been driving is 4.7 years. In terms of the reasons the females gave for being stopped, the answers varied between gender, location, and age. None of the five females related her traffic violation to her race. Also, the Vietnamese female indicated that the reason why she believed that she has never been stopped is because of her gender.
Though my findings indicate that race may be a factor in traffic stops, I found that gender actually appears to be the more prevalent attribute. The gender issue is one that has been acknowledged in past research but has often been disregarded. In terms of my research, the respondents were all varied in their ethnic backgrounds, reside and drive most frequently in Orange County, and gave varying answers regarding the reasons for their traffic stops. However, even though the female respondents, on average, have been driving for a longer period of time than the males, they have been stopped, on average, less frequently than the male respondents.
I conducted two interviews, one with an Asian male and one with a white male. The first Interviewee is 22 years old, Filipino, and a third-year student at Cal State Fullerton. He commutes to school and drives most often in Fullerton. He has been driving for 6 years and has been pulled over an estimated 15+ times during that timeframe.
The interview lasted roughly 45 minutes. In sum, he discussed the different areas he had been pulled over in, what kind of vehicle he was driving during the stops, the differing times (i.e. day/night) during which he was pulled over, and particularly, his interactions with the different police officers who pulled him over. We also discussed the issue of race and how he believed his ethnicity did or did not play a factor in how he was treated by the police officers. Growing up in Yorba Linda (Orange County), he has been stopped numerous times in the area.
He noted the fact that many officers appeared to follow him prior to stopping him. One time, a police officer had followed him for over five minutes prior to eventually stopping him from stopping in front of the line at a stop sign. The officer and his partner proceeded to question the interviewee and to search his car. Another police cruiser was called to the scene.
The interviewee had forgotten his wallet at home and telephoned his father to bring it to the scene. He did, however, give the police officers his California Driver s License number, but the officers were unable to track it until his father arrived with the wallet. The interviewee had been on his way to church.
He was wearing a tank top because he did not want to wrinkle his dress shirt (which happen to be hanging from the window sill in the back seat). The police officers had him sit on the curb until his father arrived. Wearing only his tank top and with it getting dark, the interviewee started to get cold and asked the officers if he could put on his shirt. The officers smirked and said – why, is it getting a bit nippy out here? The interviewee had been driving his parents Saturn and felt that the officers stopped him because he was driving without his shirt on in a generally upper-middle-class area.
He is convinced that his ethnicity played a great role in his being stopped due to the comment the officers had made about the weather. He also feels that the officers detained him and were suspiciously unable to track his license number due to his ethnicity. The traffic stop lasted over an hour. One other key incident occurred in Mission Viejo a couple of years ago.
The interviewee had borrowed his girlfriend’s car, a Honda Accord, to take his friend home. After dropping his friend off, he was subsequently stopped and warned by the officer that his kind didn’t belong out there at that time of night.
The interviewee feels that his ethnicity has been an overwhelming factor in his numerous traffic stops. Aside from the two incidents just described, the interviewee has had many other encounters with police officers which he felt were provoked by his race. Over the timeframe that he has been driving, the interviewee has had two different cars.
The first car, an electric blue Honda Civic Hatchback, had had many modifications. However, his present car is a white Acura Integra without any modifications. He has driven his Integra for approximately the same amount of time that he had driven his Civic. Regardless of the different cars, the interviewee still finds himself being stopped rather frequently.
The second interviewee is 22 years old, White, and a fourth-year student at Cal State Fullerton. He has also been driving for 6 years and has been pulled over 2 times during that timeframe. He is also a commuter who drives most frequently in Fullerton. The interview lasted approximately 30 minutes. He drives a newer model beige Camry.
In sum, we discussed the same topics that had been discussed in the first interview: the different areas he had been pulled over in, what kind of vehicle he was driving during the stops, the differing times (i.e. day/night) during which he was pulled over, and particularly, his interactions with the different police officers who pulled him over.
The second interviewee also grew up in Yorba Linda but has had 2 traffic stops. However, he has only been cited once. The first stop had occurred when he had initially started driving. The interviewee had been stopped for rolling or not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign. The interviewee noted that the officer, though intimidating, was professional. He was quickly cited for his violation and the encounter last approximately 5 minutes.
The second time that the interviewee was stopped was due to speeding. However, he was not cited for the violation. He talked [his] way out of it, convincing the police officer that he was late for an exam. The officer eventually let him go with a warning to be careful. When asked if he felt that race was a factor in his stops, he stated that he was simply lucky that he has not been stopped more often.
The interviewee stated that he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. He felt his traffic stops were justified. He feels that he cannot say much on the race issue, but does believe that his ethnicity has probably played a role in his not being stopped more frequently.
Though the first and second interviewees share several similar characteristics, the rate of their traffic stops greatly differs. Ethnicity, however, does appear to be a factor, particularly when taking the first interviewee s experiences into consideration.
The United States is not a healthy democracy. A basic requirement for any healthy democracy is its founding on the basic principle that all men are created equal. This means that man is judged on the fact that he is man and only that. There are no other means or factors brought into account. This is not the way men are judged in the United States. In the United States, ethnic and racial generalizations often influence judicial execution.
The attorney general’s office of New Jersey itself released a 112-page preliminary report concluding that many officers may be inadvertently discriminating against minorities in their fervor to stop drug traffickers. This report was based on the findings of an investigation on the tactics of New Jersey highway patrols and what criteria they use in identifying suspicious motorists.
Among their findings was that over a four year period, eight out of every ten cars pulled over on a southern stretch of the new jersey turnpike were minorities and forty percent of all traffic stops over a twenty-month period involved minorities. In addition, the police themselves admit that race is a factor in how they decide whom to stop and search.
But the problem is not limited to police officers and their behavior; it escalates into a federal judicial issue in which the profiling is deemed constitutional. In the case u.s. v. Weaver, the U.S. court of appeals for the Eighth Circuit upheld the constitutionality of the officer’s actions in using race as a factor (among others) in his decision to stop a potential drug-smuggler. Other courts have agreed with the Eighth Circuit that the constitution does not prohibit using race as a factor when they decide who is a suspect if this is done for purposes of law enforcement and crime prevention.
Furthermore, there is no visible end to this injustice in the near future since state police leadership has encouraged this racial profiling by giving “trooper of the year” awards to those who make big drug arrests and then failing to monitor whether troopers are disproportionately arresting minorities.
To the credit of the police, it must be said that their actions, however questionable, were done with only the intentions to uphold the law, as was also found in the attorney general’s report, that generally, the officers were not racist and the arrests were not racially motivated, nor were there any claims of racial harassment filed against these same officers.
Taking into account all these facts, listing time and time again how those who are responsible for the upholding of the constitution look at citizens, it is impossible to conclude that U.S. abides by the principle of equality. And if this fundamental criterion is not met, there can be no healthy democracy.