Type: Proposal Essays
Sample donated: Shelly Greer
Last updated: December 19, 2019
Racial profiling is a continuous, concerning problem in theUnited States of America. It occurs on a daily basis, in cities and states allover the country.
Police officers tend to apply racial profiling byrelying solely on an individual’s race, ethnicity, religion, or national originto associate that individual with committing a crime. This practice can beused to determine who to stop for minor traffic violations, also referred to as”driving black”, or which individuals to search for illegal contraband basedoff of their race without evidence that they have actually committed or been involvedin a criminal activity, as well as which individuals to administer theuse-of-force against. Racial profiling is a troubling, illegal violationof the United States of America’s Constitution that in the Fourth andFourteenth Amendment promises “equal protection under the law to all” and “freedomof unreasonable searches and seizures.” A change, or reform needsto be put in place.
Many reform suggestions were stated in theliterature used to support my stance on this issue. Dunn suggested there be trafficstop data collection forms which should be completed by the police officersafter each traffic stop, whether or not a ticket was given.This will be in order to determine whether racial of ethnic disparities existin the patterns of the traffic stops of the police officer. Aswell as,conducting a trafficcensus of the population of drivers eligible to be stopped or ticketed withincertain geographic areas. This method will show potential problems with racial biasedpolicing in particular areas under supervision. (Dunn, 2016) Warrenand Tomaskovic-Devey suggest that both the amount of media coverage andlegislative activity have an influence on officers’ racial profiling.
Therefore, a federal proposal should be introduced to exemplify nationallegislative possibilities. Introducing a national bill can cause policeofficers to realize they are under scrutiny and it will drastically improvetheir performance rates as well as decrease policing profiling. Bothfederal and state bills can send a message to police on issues of concern bythe public even if they do not pass.(Harris, 2009) Lastly, Alpert, Dunham andSmith believed the best way to assure the officers are being fair, legal and justas well as reduce the reality or perception of racial profiling is through, “policedepartments having clear policies and directives explaining the proper use ofrace in decision making. Additionally, police officers must be trained andeducated in the overall impact of using race as a factor in deciding how torespond to an individual. Third, the department must maintain adata-collection and analysis system to monitor the activities of their police officersas it applies to the race of the citizen. The fourth suggestioninvolves the use of record checks of police officers that can set in motion aprocess that results in the detention and arrest of citizens. Lastly,the completion of a record of interrogation for later intelligence hasimplications for the citizen.
The use of this intelligence tool must dependon suspicion of criminal activity rather than on the race or ethnicity of thecitizen.” (Alpert et al., 2005)I believe the best way to reform this problem is amixture of all of these great suggestions written by the previous researchers. Todecrease, and eventually put a halt to racial profiling I believe that thefirst step to be taken is to tackle the problem with new police officers in theacademy. The laws, morals and expectations of their job should beimprinted in their head. They should be trained well and educated on theirmoral obligations.
Next, I believe that supervisors should maintaindata for every police officer of each citizen they pull over.Their race, the reason for the stop, and whether a warning or a ticket wasgiven should be reported. As well as a camera on each officers uniform thatrecords each stop to ensure their reliability and so the supervisors canmonitor the activities of each officer. Many citizens believe that police officerscan do anything they want and get it away with it, to ensure that this is notthe case police departments should implement a policy that threatens eithersuspension or loss of job if the officer is not up to par with their job performance. Lastly,I believe the more effective reform for racial profiling would be to bring moremedia attention to the issue and introduce a legislative bill such as what Warrenand Tomaskovic-Devey suggested, something similar to the passage of the SenateBill 76, but instead of an individual state, introduce it nationally, that “required the collectionand correlation of data on traffic stops by state officers, which include therace of the driver, whether and on what legal basis the officer performed asearch, whether the search turned up contraband, and whether an arrest resulted.
“Recent overviews of the literature suggest thatthere is a disproportionality between the rates of traffic stops and searches amongstCaucasians and individuals of color, as well as treatment by an officerpost-stop. The high racial disparities found in non-moving trafficviolations, such as, driving with a suspended license or without wearing aseatbelt, among African Americans in the cities of Cleveland and Shaker, offensesthat are normally detected through electronic surveillance or once a trafficstop has already been made, are consistent with researchers Ponder and Meehan’sconclusion that, “officers must be ‘searching’ for, or obviously noticing,African American drivers.” (Dunn, 2016) Next, Warren andTomaskovic-Devey’s research proves to reform advocates that it is possible toreform racial profiling by effectively and purposefully using the media to drawattention to the problem, and by working to convince the legislature to act onproducing a bill to decrease and eventually put a halt to racial profiling. Warrenand Tomaskovic-Devey reviewed data from a study of traffic stops and searcheson the state of North Carolina highways. “Warren andTomaskovic-Devey looked at the incidence of searches of African American driversrelative to the popularity of media coverage of racial profiling and reviewedthis activity against the backdrop of legislative action in North Carolina toattempt to determine whether the enactment of anti-profiling legislationinfluenced police searches of African Americans. The authors then combinedthe two public reactions to police activity, media coverage and legislativeactivity into “the politics” of racial profiling.” (Harris, 2009) North Carolina passed a law on racial profilingnamed Senate Bill 76.
The law required the correlation and retrieval ofdata on traffic stops done by the officers of the state of North Carolina whichconsisted of the raceof the driver stopped, whether and on what legal basis the officer performed asearch, whether the search turned up contraband, and whether an arrest resulted. TheBill brought down all searches, and “significantly reduced the probability of aconsent search”. The rate of success police had in finding illegalcontraband as well as making arrests after searching an individual increased aswell because theyfocused more on who presented real suspicious behavioral clues which indicated potentialcriminal activity rather than those who just fit a racial or ethnic profile. In addition to racialprofiling being the likely cause of an unnecessary stop, studies also show thatan individuals race can also impact an officer’s use of force post-stop. Inan article written by researchers, Kahn, Steele, McMahon, and Stewert, use-of-forcecase files were selected from a sample of 212 available incidents occurring during2012 from a metropolitan police department on the West Coast. Thedifferent cases were chosen from a primarily Caucasian city, with minoritiesmaking up a slim percentage of the total population. All of the cases involved thepolice officer using force at some point during the interaction, producing thereport.
“The sample ofthe study contained 139 cases consisting of 62 Caucasian, 42 African American,and 35 Latino suspects. The results showed that both African American andLatino suspects received higher levels of police force earlier in interactions,where Caucasian suspects escalated in force at a more significant rate afterthe initial force levels compared with racial minorities. Racial disparitieswere also highlighted in officers’ reactions to the level of suspects’resistance. When African American and Latino suspects resisted, theyreceived significantly more force than when Caucasian suspects resisted. Resultsfrom the current study highlight how suspect race differentially changes andshapes an interaction between law enforcement officers and suspects.” (Kahn,K.
B,Steele, J.S, McMahon, J.M, Stewert, G, 2017) Lastly, while investigatingracial profiling by the Miami-Dade Police Department, researchers found AfricanAmerican drivers were treated worse than Caucasian or Hispanic drivers in mostmeasures of post-stop outcomes. “Altogether, 2% of Caucasian and Hispanicswere arrested after a traffic stop, where 3.7% of African Americandrivers were arrested.
African Americans were also more likely than Caucasiansor Hispanics to have their vehicles towed, were more likely to receive apat-down search, or to have record checks conducted on themselves or theirvehicles. African Americans were substantially more likely than Caucasiansor Hispanics to be the subject of an F.I. Card.” The data found in this study did not stipulatethat police officers of a certain race or ethnicity targeted drivers of a certainrace or ethnic group for differential treatment.
(Alpert et al.,2005)With regarding the topic of racial profiling it isimportant to scrutinize perceptions of the police due to them playing the roleof the authority figures that are supposed to maintain order in our country, aswell as, protect all of our citizens, despite their race, ethnicity or religion. Manypeople, particularly, those who do not interact with law enforcement often, mayvicariously experience police-citizen interactions through the things they hearfrom others or on the media (Eschholz, Blackwell, Gertz, Chricos, 2002). Thisis why it is so important for police officers to perform well on the job, aswell as remain unbiased in order to avoid the social conflict between policeofficers and the civilians they are supposed to protect.
The studyinvestigates the different perceptions that Caucasians and individuals of colorhave towards the police while striving to understand why these perceptions maybe different, due to underlying discriminatory practices. Racial profiling is ineffective. Itdistances communities from law enforcement, impedes community policing efforts,and causes law enforcement to lose its credibility and trust among theindividuals they are sworn in to protect and serve.