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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Essay on Racial Profiling - Prejudice in Law Enforcement

Any person who lives on a foreign land which is thousands of miles away from home definitely does not like racial profiling.  Racial Profiling is the modern-day practice among police officers who ascribe certain behavior to a certain race.  This is based on the idea that race reveals more about a person’s behavior than any other personal characteristics.  For instance, after the 2001 terror attack, it is not unusual for a person who fits the description of a Middle-Eastern man or woman to be subjected to questioning inside airports and even while on the streets.

Majority say that racial profiling is just an offshoot of the 2001 terror attack.  They say that the inconvenience being suffered until today would not have happened were it not for the 2001 terror attack.  There is evidence however that will prove that racial profiling has been going on even before 2001.  For instance, Blacks have always been targeted by police officers.  According to Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics published annually by the US Department of Justice, in 1996, blacks, who made up approximately 12.8 percent of the nation’s population, represented 43.2 percent of the persons arrested for Part I violent crimes, and 32.4 percent of persons arrested for Part I property crimes. Part 1 violent crimes refer to crimes against persons such as murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault while Part 1 property crimes refer to burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft and arson. (Jim Cleary 2) 

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The practice of racial profiling in law enforcement is common knowledge.  In fact, it is actually a given fact that the society has implicitly tolerated it for decades.  According to research a staggering number of people in the United States have been subjected to racial profiling.  Statistics shows that approximately thirty-two million Americans have already been victims of racial profiling and approximately eighty-seven million Americans are at a high risk of being subjected to future racial profiling during their lifetime.  (“Threat and Humiliation: Racial Profiling, National Security, and Human Rights in the United States” 1)

There are individuals who are against racial profiling on the basis that it violates the constitution and is ineffective in preventing crimes.  The Amnesty International argues that the constitution of the United States guarantees to every person the fundamental right to equal protection under the law regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, or national origin.  Moreover, it is their argument that by subjecting the people to racial profiling, the state instills fear and distrust among members of the targeted communities.  This is harmful for the society in general because this might prevent the target communities or the minority groups from cooperating with the police in their criminal investigations or they may refuse to seek police assistance or protection in case they are victimized.  Moreover, when law enforcement officers focus on race they tend to pay less attention to other factors that may be indicative of actual criminal behavior. 

On the other hand, racial profiling does not exist if law enforcement officers were to be asked about this.  For them, it is a fiction of imagination of the people.  Race is never a characteristic of criminality and it does not indicate a person’s state of criminal mind.  If it happens that most of the people being stopped, searched and questioned on the streets and on airports, it is because the statistics itself shows that disproportionate amount of crimes being committed by minorities.  It is a reality that the minority groups control the majority of the organized criminal activity in the United States.  (Clayton Searle 2) In reality, it is very difficult to prove the existence of racial profiling in law enforcement because it is basically very subjective and is a matter of the mind.  Unless racial basis is actually admitted by law enforcement officers, the use of discretion of law enforcement officers will always be upheld.  This is why the US courts have in the vast majority of cases ruled in favor of the law enforcement officers who are accused of racial profiling. 

In my case, I have no issues with racial profiling.  I have not done anything wrong in the past nor do I have any intention of doing anything wrong in the future.  I have nothing to hide.  I believe that people who are afraid of being questioned have something to hide.  I have always thought that if the security had only been stricter, the 2001 terror attack would not have happened.  If I will be questioned in the future inside airports or any public place simply because of my race, I will understand and I will cooperate.  I know that the same is being done to protect the security of the general public.  I do hope that others like me will also submit themselves to scrutiny and inspection if ever they will be questioned by police officers. 

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